Regional newspaper group Johnston Press gas warned of “severe headwinds” facing news publishing as it revealed revenue down 14 per cent on a like for like basis in 2016.
When i newspaper is taken into account (which Johnston Press bought in April 2016) total revenue for 2016 is down 6 per cent year on year, it said in a trading update.
Overall, even with the addition of i, advertising revenue for 2016 was down 7 per cent year on year, with a slight 1 per cent increase i digital failing to cancel out print decline.
Excluding i, circulation revenue was down 9 per cent in 2016.
Cost-cutting means Johnston Press has maintained a profit margin of 22 per cent, which it said is among the highest in the industry.
Johnston Press said that after a particularly difficult summer “prompted by Brexit-related uncertainty” there had been some improvement in the last quarter of 2016.
The weakness of the pound has increased print and ink costs.
The inews.co.uk website of i newspaper is said to have grown from zero to 1.4m monthly unique users.
Johnston Press said keeping the print sales decline of the Yorkshire Post and News Letter in single digit percentages was a success.
Chief executive Ashley Highfield (pictured) said: “Despite the challenging print market, including a very difficult summer prompted by Brexit-related
uncertainties, we have seen some improvement in our markets during the fourth quarter.
“Whilst we expect the overall market environment to remain challenging for both the group and the industry as a whole, we remain focused on delivering on our strategic priorities of growing our overall audience,
driving the further success of the i newspaper, delivering a more efficient editorial and sales operation and strengthening the balance sheet.
“The market for quality news brands, that know their audience, in print and online, in a world of ‘fake news’, ‘alternative facts’, and internet ad fraud, is increasingly appreciated by our readers and advertisers alike. Our continued drive to maximise operational efficiencies gives us flexibility in the face of a challenging market and gives the management confidence that we can make further progress.”