Regional publisher Johnston Press has reported a 4.3pc increase in like for like operating profits for the first half of 2013 following £24m of cutbacks.
Overall revenues at the newspaper group fell by 9.8pc to £144.3m in the period to 29 June, although there was a 13pc rise in digital revenues from £10.3m to £11.6m.
But a £24.3m reduction in costs enabled the group to post an operating profit of £28.6m, up from £27.4m in the same period in 2012.
The figures published this morning represent the first increase in like-for-like operating profits at the group for seven years.
However the operating profit figure does not include a one-off £194.5m write-down on the value of its newspaper titles, which pushed the group to a statutory pre-tax loss of £248.7m for the first half of the year.
The statutory figures also included a £57.9m write-down on print press assets.
Advertising revenues were down 13.6pc across the period, but the decline appears to have slowed in the second quarter of the year with a 17.6pc drop in January narrowing to 6.3pc in June and July.
Excluding the impact of the five daily titles which switched to weekly format in May 2012, circulation revenues fell by just 0.7pc.
Chief executive Ashley Highfield said “Johnston Press has continued to make good progress during the first half in the implementation of its strategy for growth, completing the re-launch of its print titles and investing further in technology to build its digital platform whilst maintaining a tight control on costs.
“It is encouraging to see the benefits of our actions starting to come through, with the Group achieving its first like for like operating profit increase in seven years.
“Although the economic outlook is not without challenges, momentum has continued into the second half, underpinned by the re-structuring and re-focusing of the business, an increasingly stable advertising market and growth in circulation and digital revenues.
“This has enabled us to report like for like operating profit up 4.3pc, digital revenues up 13.3pc and net debt down 15.3pc, with total advertising decline rate narrowing to 6.3% during June and July 2013.”
“We remain focused on adapting our business to the changing environment in which we operate and reaching the point where digital growth will offset any further decline so that we can return to overall top line growth.
“In view of this operational progress, we expect the results for 2013 to be broadly in line with current market expectations.”