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Record profits for Johnston

Turnover and operating profit at Johnston Press both increased by more than 40 per cent last year, to £428.4m and £129.5m respectively, the group has announced.

The figures were revealed in the preliminary results for the year ending December 31, 2002, for the group which publishes regional titles that include the Hartlepool Mail, Shields Gazette, Scarborough Evening News, Peterbrough Evening Telegraph and Portsmouth News.

Chairman Roger Parry said the group had enjoyed a very satisfactory year with cash generation, profits and turnover all at record levels, helped by the acquisition of Regional Independent Media.

He also said that newspaper sales revenues and advertising sales had continued to grow, with paid-for weekly paper circulation up one-and-a-half per cent, but the group’s daily titles experienced circulation declines, in line with industry trends.

The figures also showed that like-for-like advertising revenues (excluding those titles purchased from RIM) grew by 2.1 per cent, with growth achieved in every advertising category over the year as a whole.

This included property advertising, which grew 3.7 per cent overall, classified advertising, which increased by 4.5 per cent, and display advertising which was up 1.7 per cent.

Looking forward to the year ahead, Roger said: “We have made a satisfactory start to 2003.

“We have achieved further modest revenue growth, despite advertising markets remaining subdued. The price of newsprint, our largest purchase item, has reduced and costs in the business remain well controlled.”

However he said while the outlook was clouded by events overseas and their potential impact on the UK economy, the group remained confident that Johnston Press was in good shape to respond to future challenges.

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©NEP 2003