Tuesday 22 January 2019

Johnston Press reports earnings of £40m 'in line with expectations'

Johnston Press publishes the Belfast News and the Derry Journal,
Johnston Press publishes the Belfast News and the Derry Journal,
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Johnston Press, which brands includes Belfast News, the Derry Journal, and the i, has reported adjusted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) of £40m (€46m) for the year ending 30 December.

Slightly lower than the group’s 2016 earnings of £43.9m, the group said that the performance was "in line with expectation," according to its financial results for 2017.

Announcing the results this morning, Johnston hailed the "exceptional performance" from the i newspaper, which delivered delivered adjusted EBITDA of £9.3m.

Johnston Press purchased the title for £24m in April 2016 from the UK Independent, part of ESI Media.

Adjusted revenue at the group was £201.2m, down 4.5pc year-on-year, however up 1.8pc excluding classifieds.

"In 2017, we worked hard to combat the continued downward pressure on print publishing revenue, both in advertising and circulation," Camilla Rhodes, interim chairman of the company, said.

"A key component of our plan saw a wholesale modernisation in the organisation and operation of our sales teams for local markets, as we seek to build a class-leading centralised tele-sales operation with deep local market knowledge. After an initial bedding in period, these changes are starting to show results."

Adjusted digital revenue at the group increased by 3pc to £25.9m, while adjusted circulation revenue also increased, up 2.7pc to £79m.

The group’s statutory loss before tax was £95m, down 68.4pc year-on-year.

The loss includes a non-cash impairment of £64.4m and mark-to-market loss on the bond of £22.8m (which was a gain of £43.6m in 2016), as a result of an increase in the market value of the bond.

Looking forwards, the group said that current trading remains "very challenging" and is expected to remain so for the remainder of this year.

However the group said that it continues to invest in digital growth, while also "continuing to look for ways to take cost out of the business, in mitigation of print revenue declines."

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