Regional publisher Johnston Press has announced it has won a multi-million pound contract to print four national newspapers on the day annual results showed a 2.8pc increase in operating profits.
The four Richard Desmond-owned titles are currently printed at Broughton, Preston. It is anticipated production will move to Dinnington in July.
The announcement came as JP’s annual results showed operating profits up 2.8pc to £55.5m although revenues were down 4.4pc at £265.9m.
David Crow, Johnston Press’ MD Group Services Division (Print & Logistics) said: “We are delighted by this significant deal and thrilled to have these prestigious titles in our print portfolio. This new contract underpins the exacting levels of service we can offer customers.”
Johnston Press’ existing print clients include Local World, Guardian Media Group and Tindle Newspaper Group.
Chief executive Ashley Highfield, above left, added: “This new contract is testament to the quality of service provided by the highly trained teams at our printing sites and demonstrates the faith other media groups have in our ability to deliver exceptional quality products.
“Congratulations to the team for securing such a prestigious contract.”
Today’s results showed the company managed to pay off more than £100m of debt during 2014, with net debt down from £304m at the start of the year to £194m.
This was mainly due to the refinancing operation last June which raied £360m in new shares and bonds.
According to today’s report, operating costs were reduced by £13.8m although no figure is given for staffing reductions.
Digital revenues grew by 20pc to stand at £28.8m for the year – representing 17.4pc of overall advertising revenues – while digital audiences were up 35pc at 16.7m.
The report says: “During 2014 we continued to transform our business in line with the strategic priorities set out in 2012.
“Business transformation remains at the forefront of our plans, and following a successful pilot, Newsroom of the Future is being rolled out across the group.”
Ashley also highlighted the ‘Newsroom of the Future’ initiative in his chief executive’s report, saying it will “re-engineer our newsrooms to equip us to cope with the demands of reporting in the modern age.”
He said that in the future, JP newsrooms will deliver larger and more engaged digital audiences, improved print products, more user generated content and new workflows and technology for staff.
Commenting on the results as a whole, Ashley added: “Following the refinancing we are seeing the business transform into a modern multimedia organisation.
“We are excited about the future for the business and confident of delivering on our strategic objectives of growing an engaged audience base and returning our business to top line growth.”
The report also heralds the prospect of further office closures over the coming year as part of an ongoing strategy to reduce the company’s property portfolio.
It reveals that during 2014, JP disposed of 23 freehold properties and removed itself from 15 leases.
“Overall we have reduced the total number of properties within the portfolio from 188 at the start of the review in 2012 to 150 at the end of 2014, with nearly half of all staf either having relocated or having seen investment in their environment,” says the report.
“Although a great deal of progress has been made during 2014, the projects will continue as the portfolio is rationalised further with an expectation of the overall number of properties eventually falling below 100.”