In its pre-close trading results for the second half of the financial year ending 31 December 2007, Johnston Press recorded an increase in newspaper sales revenues compared to the same period last year following a number of cover price hikes which offset a decline in sales.
Digital revenues continued to grow (up 35.5 per cent) on the back of the group’s Newsrooms of the Future programme that has seen the integration of print and online production at its dailies and bigger weeklies .
Overall advertising revenues were up 0.2 per cent year-on-year but print-only advertising revenues were down 0.8 per cent year on year. Ad revenue in Ireland dipped by 1.2 per cent compared to an increase of ten per cent in the first half of the year which reflects a slowdown in the local economy, particularly in the property market.
Recruitment revenues were down 1.8 per cent compared to a 4.3 per cent drop in the first half of 2007.
Property advertising rose at a slower rate in the five month period while the rate of decline in the motoring market declined. There was a slight improvement in classified advertising in the second half of the year but display advertising remained weak.
In a statement to the Stock Exchange Johnston said: ‘The business is in excellent shape, the major print investments will contribute fully and the consequent reduction in the level of capital expenditure will have a positive impact on cash generation. We also expect continued rapid growth in our digital activities and to achieve ongoing improvements in the operational efficiency of the business.”
Johnston forecast that integration of Scottish titles acquired from Archant and a restructuring of Republic of Ireland businesses as well as losses on the sale of printing businesses and Best Asian Media will cost more than £6m.
The group’s preliminary results are due to be released on 5 March 2008.