Johnston Press says full-year profits to meet hopes

Media group Johnston Press today said its full-year underlying profits are set to be in line with expectations.

Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield
Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield

In a third-quarter trading update, the Edinburgh-based owner of The Scotsman said it had retained a focus on cost savings, “delivering strong cashflows and debt reduction”.

The group, which also owns the Edinburgh Evening News, Scotland on Sunday, Yorkshire Post and scores of local newspapers and websites, said growing its digital audience “remains a priority” and the number of unique users has grown on average by 22 per cent to 21.5 million per month during the 17 weeks to the end of October.

Underlying digital revenues were up 8.4 per cent in the period, while publishing revenues fell 10.8 per cent, with print advertising revenues down 14.7 per cent.

Johnston Press, led by chief executive Ashley Highfield, said underlying total revenues for the 17-week period fell 8.8 per cent year-on-year, having fallen 7.6 per cent in the second quarter.

It added: “1XL, our digital advertising exchange partnership, launched in late 2014, helped our national digital advertising category grow by 106.5 per cent in the period, and has enabled us to achieve overall growth in national combined print and online display revenues of 3.8 per cent for the period.

“We have continued to focus on offsetting revenue decline with cost reduction, and have made good progress in controlling production, editorial and advertising costs in line with our strategic initiatives: ‘News room of the future’ and ‘Sales force of the future’.”

Last month, Johnston Press announced that it had closed or merged 11 small free print titles as part of its portfolio simplification programme.

“This programme has continued with seven further titles being closed or merged, which will help our strategy to align resource to brands and geographies offering the greatest opportunity,” it said.