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Revenues down at Johnston Press despite digital boost

Ashley-Highfield2-e1401302531277Johnston Press recorded a total revenue drop of 7pc in the third quarter of 2017 despite an increase in digital earnings.

A trading update published this morning by the regional publisher showed digital revenue up 16pc in the quarter, excluding classifieds, while print advertising, again excluding classifieds, was down 8pc and circulation revenue down 4pc.

However, contract printing revenue was up 8pc and the i’s like-for-like revenue also increased 17pc in the same period.

The company achieved record web traffic during the quarter, which was led by a 64pc year-on-year increase for the Yorkshire Evening Post.

As reported last week, The Scotsman had become JP’s first title to see its advertising revenue come almost equally from print and digital.

During the quarter it generated a 35pc increase in total local advertising year on year, with 47pc of local display revenue now coming from digital products.

In terms of print, both the Lancashire Post and Belfast News Letter delivered a 3pc on increase on their base sale following relaunches of their Saturday editions.

The company has now moved 60pc of its advertising into telesales, based at its Sheffield media sales centre, while digital display advertising has also grown 16pc.

An ad hoc committee of the company’s largest bondholders has now been formed to negotiate with the company about the terms of refinancing its £220m debt.

JP’s board says it anticipates discussions with the committee to progress over the coming weeks with the aim of further updating the market in due course.

Chief executive Ashley Highfield, pictured above left, said: “Our key strategic priorities of continuing the success of the i newspaper and growing digital revenues have both shown strong gains during the period.

“It is significant that The Scotsman saw strong year on year advertising growth in Q3, with almost half of that coming from digital, driven by both audience growth and increased monetisation from data-driven targeted advertising.

“A significant amount of work is being done on the strategic review of financing options and we are pleased with progress to date.”


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  • November 2, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Interesting ‘ reading between the lines ‘ figures here
    Digital revenue with a 16pc increase on very little is 16pc more than very little so pretty worthless in the grand scale of things
    A 64pc increase in web traffic for the YP against weak digital ad revenues shows how meaningless web traffic numbers are
    Core business revenues ; print ad revenue down a further 8pc is a big loss albeit on a falling revenue base
    And a further 4pc drop in copy sales is an alarming drop on already declining paper sales
    Most alarming is ‘…. advertising revenue come almost equally from print and digital’ this would be good news for web revenues if print was performing well but as it isn’t it shows just how bad things are when print revenue is now as low as digital.
    It’s also very telling that AH appears to have washed his hands of local papers instead focussing his and JPs efforts on “…Our key strategic priorities of continuing the success of the i newspaper and growing digital revenues ‘

    Good luck with reducing the £220m debt folks, it’ll thaw a lot of web revenue to make a dent in that considerable pile

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  • November 2, 2017 at 10:36 am

    “Our key strategic priorities of continuing the success of the i newspaper and growing digital revenues have both shown strong gains during the period.

    Does this mean JP is no longer interested in local print? Seems that way with some scribblers based nearly 40 miles from where they are writing about.

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  • November 2, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Looks like the first two posters have already picked up on the key observation in AHs attenoed damage limitation statement, that being if you’re at JP and working on anything other than the i paper or growing digital revenues ( good luck with that one) your days must be numbered,meaning we can expect more closures and job cuts in the coming months.
    Time to update those CVs and get networking I’d say as pre Christmas is the traditional culling time in the regionals,especially ones which are losing money hand over fist

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  • November 2, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    The big thing here is an overall 7% drop in revenues. Print Ad’s were down 8%. Who cares about an increase in web traffic, means nothing if you can’t monetise it. Keep up the good work Ash.

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  • November 2, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    “moved 60pc of it’s sales into telesales”
    Looking after the customer a thing of the past, someone at the end of a phone, faceless, no customer relationship building.
    Thank you JP for making me redundant this year – your money came in handy and got me out of a sinking ship.

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  • November 3, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Let’s cut to the chase.

    It is obvious we are no nearer to finding a financially viable model to exploit the internet for the regional press than we were 15 years ago. Which is all dreadfully disappointing and totally predictable.


    Because despite all the huffing and puffing and parsnip-buttered words – it simply does not exist.

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