Thursday 16 August 2018

Johnston Press prepares for further cuts as revenues drop nearly 10%

Print advertising took the biggest hit, falling 10.1% to £49 million.

The Scotsman bicentenary
The Scotsman bicentenary

By Kalyeena Makortoff, Press Association Chief City Correspondent

The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post owner Johnston Press is preparing for further cost-cutting, saying a challenging market has put pressure on revenues which dropped nearly 10% over 2017.

The publisher – which also owns the i newspaper – reported a drop in group revenues from £222.7 million to £201.6 million for the year December 30, dragged down by an 18.3% fall in total advertising sales to £100.2 million.

Print advertising took the biggest hit, falling 10.1% to £49 million, while digital ad revenues rose 8.1% to £20.1 million.

While Johnston Press managed to narrow its pre-tax losses to £95 million from £300.7 million a year earlier, the company said it was likely to extend its cost-cutting drive.

“The trading environment remains challenging, notwithstanding early signs of some improvement in the national print advertising market,” the group said on Tuesday.

“Comparatives do get harder, and we expect to see continued pressure on revenues, and the requirement for cost savings.”

Johnston Press said it had already cut adjusted operating costs by £12.1 million last year, aided by 350 job cuts across its back office and administrative roles.

The publisher did not provide projections on the number of job cuts it expects in 2018, but is currently planning to hire journalists and digital specialists throughout the year.

“Against this difficult backdrop we are focused on maintaining our strong margins, driving additional growth from i and realising further operational and financial synergies,” the publisher said.

“During 2018 we will continue to selectively invest in the business, with a focus on digital, journalists, and content generation.”

In better news, the publisher saw adjusted digital revenue rise 13% to £20 million, or up 3% when including classified.

The company said it was now trading in line with expectations over the first quarter of 2018, with adjusted underlying earnings already higher than the same period last year.

Press Association

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