Johnston Press posts €1.7m profit
REGIONAL media group Johnston Press Ireland returned to profit last year after it removed €4m in costs from the business.
Accounts just filed show that the group, which owns a number of regional newspapers in the Republic, recorded pre-tax profits of €1.7m despite a 16pc decline in sales to €19.4m.
The return to profit was due to the removal of €4m in costs and the non-reoccurrence of exceptional costs of €5.4m in 2010 that arose from restructuring, impairment costs and an empty property provision.
The Scottish-owned group's titles include the 'Limerick Leader', the 'Kilkenny People', the 'Leinster Leader' and the 'Longford Leader'.
"Last year was another difficult year for the economy in the Republic of Ireland. This impacted print advertising revenues, which declined 17.5pc in the year," the directors' report said. "Total revenues declined 15.9pc."
The accounts disclose that digital revenues represent just 1.5pc, or €308,000, of overall revenues. However, the directors point out that digital revenues grew by 34pc during the year.
The figures show that Johnston Press benefited from an exceptional gain of €329,000 from the sale of press equipment following the closure of its Limerick print press and that was offset by €125,000 in redundancy costs.
The group employs about 480 people in Ireland and reduced staff costs last year to €8.9m from €11.6m.
The directors' report states that "total costs in 2011 reflected the full-year effect of changes made in 2010: namely the reduction in senior management, the closure of the Limerick press; outsourcing newspaper distribution and the centralisation of back office functions".
The directors state that the key risk for the group "continues to be the ability to stimulate advertising revenues in a difficult economic environment".
The profit last year takes account of non-cash depreciation costs of €500,000.
The figures show that the amount owed by the firm to group firms last year increased from €135.5m to €138.2m, with the amount owed by group firms to Johnston Press Ireland increased to €159.9m. The firm's shareholder funds stood at €23.1m.