Sunday 24 September 2017

Profits halve at Johnston Press

Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield
Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield
Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

SHARES in media group Johnston Press slumped after the company's profits more than halved as advertising revenue fell.

The biggest regional newspaper group in the UK, which also owns a host of titles here including the 'Kilkenny People' and 'Leinster Leader', said profit before tax and exceptional items tumbled 55pc to £12.6m (€14.8m) in 2012.

The drop in profits came despite Johnston reducing its headcount by more than 23pc to 4,350. Under chief executive Ashley Highfield, the company has radically changed its business model, and many of its newspapers have cut their circulation and instead rely on their websites to run breaking news.

The group has also brought in a number of universal templates for the design of its newspapers in order to reduce production costs.

An ongoing drop off in turnover hit the business hard. Sales fell 12pc to £328.7m, while advertising revenue dropped by a similar margin.

That decline shows little sign of turning around in the short term at least. In the first 10 weeks of 2013, advertising had fallen 15.6pc year on year.

Despite the lower figures, Mr Highfield said the company was on course to be put on a sustainable footing into the future.

"Good progress has been made in the process of transforming the group in 2012 and the changes made provide a strong platform for us to build on in 2013 as we invest in refreshing our print portfolio, and simultaneously move our operation to be real-time, digitally led, social, mobile and ever more local," he said.

Environment

"The economic environment remains challenging, but with the steps we have taken to improve the business, to accelerate the growth of our digital revenues, and to continue to manage our costs, we believe we are well positioned to deliver a strong operating performance in 2013 along with continued strong cash flow," he added.

By the close in London, shares in Johnston Press had fallen 5.7pc to 12.5p. The shares are up 62pc in the past year.

Irish Independent

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