Johnston Press highlights digital growth ahead of results

Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield
Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield
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Media group Johnston Press today said its annual results were set to meet expectations amid a rise in digital revenues.

The Edinburgh-based owner of The Scotsman said underlying digital revenues grew 12 per cent in the 52-week period ending 2 January.

Total revenues fell 7 per cent year-on-year, with publishing revenues down 8 per cent and print advertising revenues 12 per cent lower.

In a trading statement ahead of its full-year results – due to be announced on 22 March – Johnston Press, which also owns the Edinburgh Evening News, Scotland on Sunday, Yorkshire Post and scores of local newspapers and websites, said: “Digital audience growth remains a priority and the number of unique users has grown to 22.6 million in December 2015.”

Shares in the group, headed by chief executive Ashley Highfield, rose more than 10 per cent following the update.

READ MORE: Johnston Press says full-year profits to meet hopes

The firm also told investors that it was exploring the sale of some brands.

“As part of the group’s portfolio review, a number of brands have been identified that are not part of its long-term future, as they fall outside its selected markets, or do not match the audience focus, or do not offer the levels of digital growth sought by the group,” it said.

“A process has been initiated to explore the sale of these assets to identified parties. If the disposal process is successful in realising appropriate value for the assets, proceeds will be used to fund on-going investment in preferred markets and to further deleverage the group.”