Johnston Press publishes financial results for 2017

Johnston Press plc this week announced its results for the 52 week period ended 30 December 2017.

Johnston Press publishes financial results for 2017

Below are selected bits of the report. To read the full report, click here.

Statutory results for the Group:

* Statutory total revenue of £201.6m (2016: £222.7m) was down 9.5%, £9.9m of which resulted from the sale of Midlands and East Anglia titles in January 2017

* Statutory loss before tax of £95.0m (2016: loss of £300.7m) down 68.4% includes a non-cash impairment of £64.4m (2016: £344.3m) and mark-to-market loss on the bond of £22.8m (2016: gain of £43.6m), as a result of an increase in the market value of the bond

* Net debt was £141.7m (2016: £127.5m) as a result of the increase in the market value of the bond

Like for like revenue for the Group including i for the comparable 38 week period:

* Total revenue was down 8.1%, (excluding classifieds down 2.7%)

* Advertising revenue was down 13.5%, (excluding classifieds down 4.0%)

* Circulation revenue was down 4.9%

Ashley Highfield, Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Our vision remains constant - to be at the heart of our communities, providing accurate, relevant and timely news and information - free of proprietorial influence. And we continue to deliver on this, despite 2017 proving to be another tough year for the sector: We more than doubled profits at the i, with circulation revenue up 20% and advertising revenue up 27% (H2 ‘17 v H2 ‘16). We grew our digital traffic across the group by 19% and our digital audiences reached an all time high of 25.4m. We posted total adjusted revenue up 1.8% year on year, excluding classifieds, which in combination with maintaining operational excellence and reducing costs, achieved profits in line with expectations.

The first quarter of 2018 has seen us deliver increased adjusted EBITDA year on year, driven by the i’s continued strong performance (especially the relaunched Saturday edition, up 4% year on year in newspaper sales) and our strategy of focusing on our largest Cities and titles. We are pleased with the acceleration in growth from the i’s website which, having delivered sustained growth in 2017, has ramped up further in the first quarter of this year (with unique users up 89% year on year).

Across our regional portfolio of titles national print advertising tracked in line with prior year in the first quarter of 2018, with advertisers starting to increase spend in regional print. This trend is driven by a somewhat stronger overall advertising market, our ability to precisely target audiences using ‘big data’, and improving sentiment towards quality print publishers in the wake of the Fake News and social media trust concerns.

Classified advertising remains weak, but is now a significantly smaller portion of the group accounting for just 13% of revenues in the quarter, following our investment in digital and the i.

Whilst operationally the business is performing well in challenging markets, addressing the Group’s capital structure remains a key priority. The Strategic Review of financing options is ongoing and discussions with our various stakeholders are progressing. We will update on this matter as we progress through 2018.”