Johnston Press profit falls as tough trading persists for newspapers

Company says monetisation of its digital audience continued to gain momentum

Newspaper publisher Johnston Press reported a 30.9 per cent fall in half-year adjusted pretax profit and said trading conditions for regional newspapers in the UK continue to be difficult.

Newspaper publisher Johnston Press reported a 30.9 per cent fall in half-year adjusted pretax profit and said trading conditions for regional newspapers in the UK continue to be difficult.

 

Newspaper publisher Johnston Press reported a 30.9 per cent fall in half-year adjusted pretax profit and said trading conditions for regional newspapers in the UK continue to be difficult. However, the company said the monetisation of its digital audience continued to gain momentum, partly offsetting the decrease in print advertising revenues.

The newspaper industry has been hard hit in recent years as advertisers have followed readers to online platforms, forcing print publishers such as Trinity Mirror and Daily Mail and General Trust to cut costs drastically.

Trinity Mirror, which owns the Daily Mirror, on Monday ramped up its cost savings plan after weak print advertising and poor sales of classified ads pushed its half-year adjusted operating profit down 9.4 per cent.

Johnston Press said revenue, excluding classifieds, grew 4.6 per cent to £85.6 million in the 26 weeks to July 1st, on stronger digital business and sales of the i newspaper. The 250-year-old company said digital advertising revenue rose 14.8 per cent, excluding classifieds, while print advertising revenue fell 4.5 per cent.

Revenue from classifieds fell 28.8 per cent in the period. Digital audiences grew 15 per cent to a record high of 26.5 million unique users a month, the company said, while page views rose about 20 per cent to more than 110 million on average per month.

Johnston, which has over 200 titles across the country, acquired i, the cut-price sister paper of the Independent, for £24 million last year to tap into its growing circulation revenue and advertising base. The circulation revenue at i rose to £11 million from £4.4 million, while advertising revenue jumped nearly fourfold to £3 million.

Johnston’s adjusted pretax profit fell to £6.7 million in the 26-week period from £9.7 million, a year earlier. The publisher of the Yorkshire Post, the Scotsman and several regional newspapers, said total revenue fell 3.1 per cent to £102.9 million. – (Reuters)