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i aqcuisition helps offset Johnston Press revenue decline

Johnston Press logoThe 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.”

It said The Scotsman, which recently marked its 200th anniversary, has seen print sales growth of 2pc year on year, while The Yorkshire Post and the News Letter are both in “single digit decline.”

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.”

5 comments

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  • February 3, 2017 at 4:38 pm
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    How sad that JP’s commitment to being “ever more efficient” in practice equates to ever fewer people covering ever more roles under ever greater stress to inevitably produce newspapers of ever decreasing quality sold to an ever declining readership.

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  • February 3, 2017 at 9:47 pm
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    Wow, has The Scotsman really risen by 2 per-cent year-on-year? That’s nothing short of outstanding in today’s trading environment.

    If it has, well done, hats off, etc. Not sure I believe it, though.

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  • February 4, 2017 at 10:14 am
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    The reason for the decline in revenue is poor quality over-priced newspapers which readers and advertisers are deserting in droves. It’s that simple.

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  • February 6, 2017 at 9:00 am
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    For efficient read cheaper to run, but poorer quality. Just take a look at JP weeklies, ghosts of what they once were.

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