Johnston Press ad revenues fall 8%

Print and digital ad revenues at regional newspaper group Johnston Press have dropped 8% year on year in the 18 weeks since the end of June.

Johnston Press: ad revenues down 8% since June
Johnston Press: ad revenues down 8% since June

The company, which hired digital veteran Ashley Highfield as chief executive in the summer, has continued to haemorrhage job advertising revenues, while the rest of its business is relatively healthy.

Employment ad revenue fell 19.2% year on year, having fallen 30.4% in the first half of the year.

However, the fall in display ad revenue was a much smaller 3.4%, which the company described as in line with the first half of the year.

The company publishes more than 250 papers, including The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Evening Post, and despite the impression that regional readership is in decline, circulation revenues were down by just 1.6%.

The company blamed the jobs sector for holding back its digital revenues, which nevertheless grew 4.4%.

It credited its business directory offering, Find It, and increased display advertising following the redesign of its websites, for the growth.

Highfield, who developed the BBC iPlayer and subsequently headed Microsoft’s UK consumer and online division, has acquired 711,818 shares in Johnston Press since his appointment in July.

The future value of those shares (currently 5.2p each) is likely to depend on Johnston Press getting to grips with its £357m debt pile (reduced from £386.7m at the start of the year).

The company has now started discussions with its lenders about refinancing its debts in the first quarter of 2012. Its current borrowing facility is due to expire in September 2012.

Follow Daniel Farey-Jones on Twitter @danfareyjones


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