The acquisition of the i newspaper helped Johnston Press boost circulation revenues by 11pc in 2016, offsetting an overall revenue decline.
According to a trading update this morning, revenues at the publishing group fell by 6pc during the 52 weeks to 31 December.
However if the i is excluded from the figures, the group saw a fall in overall revenues of 14pc and a drop in circulation revenues of 9pc.
The company also revealed it had made £25m of cost reductions in 2016, and signalled its commitment to an “ever more efficient” editorial and sales operation.
In the update, the company said that following “a period of difficult trading in the summer prompted by Brexit-related uncertainty,” trading conditions had improved in the final three months of the year.
However it added that the news publishing market “continues to suffer from the severe headwinds of falling advertising revenues and print circulation.”
Despite a Brexit-related rise in the cost of newsprint, costs fell £25m during 2016 and have now fallen by more than £100m since 2012.
“The relentless cost cutting programme saved over £25 million during 2016, and now totals some £100 million since 2012, ensuring we maintained strong margins despite severe revenue pressures,” said the update.
The update also hailed a “strong start” to 2017, with a 15pc year-on-year increase in traffic to JP websites and “impressive sales results” in some of its “large quality titles.”
Chief executive Ashley Highfield said: “Despite the challenging print market, including a very difficult summer prompted by Brexit-related uncertainties, we have seen some improvement in our markets during the fourth quarter.
“Whilst we expect the overall market environment to remain challenging for both the Group and the industry as a whole, we remain focused on delivering on our strategic priorities of growing our overall audience, driving the further success of the i newspaper, delivering a more efficient editorial and sales operation and strengthening the balance sheet.
“The market for quality news brands, that know their audience, in print and online, in a world of ‘fake news’, ‘alternative facts’, and internet ad fraud, is increasingly appreciated by our readers and advertisers alike.
“Our continued drive to maximise operational efficiencies gives us flexibility in the face of a challenging market and gives the management confidence that we can make further progress.”