The Edinburgh-based owner of The Scotsman said that circulation volumes from the i newspaper rose by 4.6 per cent to an average of 290,000 a day in September, helping circulation revenues jump 18.8 per cent year-on-year in the 17 weeks to 29 October – with last month’s revenues up 22.5 per cent.
Johnston Press, which also owns the Edinburgh Evening News, Scotland on Sunday, Yorkshire Post and scores of local newspapers and websites, said that i – acquired in a £24 million deal in April – has now grown its market share from 18.5 per cent to more than 20 per cent of the quality newspaper segment.
In today’s trading update, the group – led by chief executive Ashley Highfield – said: “Following the acquisition of the i newspaper in April 2016 and its subsequent strong performance, and an improvement in trading since Brexit, total group revenues year-on-year for the 17-week period to 29 October were down 5.1 per cent. Total group revenues year-on-year were 3.2 per cent down in October versus 9.9 per cent down in the first half.”
It added that digital advertising revenues, excluding classifieds, returned to growth of 8.4 per cent in October although they were down 2.8 per cent for the 17-week period as a whole.
“Audience growth remains a priority and the number of digital unique users has grown on average from 20.3 million to 23.1 million per month for September year-on-year,” Johnston Press said.
Following the £4.25m sale of its titles on the Isle of Man to Tindle Newspapers in August, the publisher said it continued to “explore opportunities for further divestment, and will provide an update when appropriate”.
It said that combined print and digital advertising revenues, excluding classifieds, had been particularly affected by tough trading conditions earlier this year and were down 6.8 per cent for the 17-week period, having fallen 9.2 per cent in the first half of the year.
Johnston Press told investors: “We remain focused on cutting costs to mitigate revenue declines and the impact of sterling weakness on paper prices, and assuming no further deterioration in trading conditions, the board expects performance to continue in line with expectations.”