Johnston Press interim profits halve

UK and Ireland regional press publisher Johnston Press plc has announced interim results for the 26 weeks ended July 2, 2011.

Key Financials
26 weeks to July 2, 2011

  • Total revenue down 7.5% to £191.8m
  • Total advertising revenues decreased by 10.0% year on year, with employment revenues continuing to contribute most to the decline in print and digital, but offset by growth in national display advertising
  • Circulation revenues down just 1.8% on the first half of 2010
  • Digital revenues down 5.0%, but with an improving trend from -9.7% in Q1 to -1.5% year on year in Q2, reflecting the benefit of the launch of the Find it business directory in March 2011
  • Total costs for the first 26 weeks of 2011 were reduced by £8.3m compared with the same period in 2010, despite a £4.2m impact of newsprint prices

Group debt

  • Net debt is £370.7m. A reduction of £16.0m since the start of the year
  • Facility reduction of £20.0m scheduled for 30 June 2012 was brought forward to 30 April 2011 by the Group

 Other news

  • Two new digital partnerships with Zoopla for online property and Nimble Commerce for online vouchers
  • New Chief Executive Officer, Ashley Highfield, is to join the Group on 1 November 2011

Commenting on the results, John Fry, Chief Executive Officer of Johnston Press plc said:

“The Group achieved an operating profit before non-recurring items of £33.3m despite the challenging UK economic environment of the first half of 2011, down 17.6% on the first half of 2010. This was achieved by tight operational control, with further cost reductions of £8.3m resulting from new processes and an increased centralisation of back office functions. Operating cash flow within the Group remains strong, with a further debt reduction of £16.0m achieved in the first half of 2011.

We remain cautious about the advertising outlook for the second half of the year, with total advertising revenues in the first seven weeks down 8.1%. Digital revenues, which returned to year-on-year growth in May, have continued to grow in the second half with the first seven weeks up 6.8% compared to the same period in 2010. We are also delighted to be able to announce the new digital partnerships with Zoopla and Nimble which will enable a significant enhancement of our property website and the launch of a new online vouchers business in the autumn. The Board has confidence that, in the absence of a further significant deterioration in the UK economy, the outcome for the Group in 2011 will be broadly in line with current expectations.”