Despite climbing circulation and digital revenues, regional news publisher Johnston Press saw adjusted profits before tax fall by a quarter to £23m last year.
The i newspaper publisher’s financial results for 2016 show its revenues down 6 per cent overall to £222m.
Advertising revenue from print and digital combined fell 15 per cent on the previous year to £122m.
Print advertising (excluding classified) was down 9 per cent to £61m, but digital advertising rose by 1 per cent year on year to £18.5m.
Classified and other advertising fell 28 per cent to £42m.
Circulation revenue across the publisher’s 213 titles grew by 11 per cent to £80m, boosted by the £24m acquisition of the i newspaper in April last year.
On a statutory basis, Johnston Press recorded a pre-tax loss of £300m owing to a write-down in the value of its titles.
The publisher also saw its net debt rise by 14 per cent to £204m. It is known to be taking advice on “debt-related issues” from financial services giant Rothschild.
Last year Johnston Press agreed the sale of its newspaper titles on the Isle of Man for £4.25m to Tindle Newspapers (these titles are not included in the results) and it said it was “actively exploring opportunities for the disposal of further assets”.
Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield said: “Despite an industry-wide backdrop of significant downward pressure on revenues, the actions we have taken to pilot the business through this rapidly-changing market and create the conditions from which to create growth are starting to bear fruit.
“Circulation figures of key titles are improving, the i has bucked the trend of declining national newspaper sales and our progressive editorial and sales models are starting to transform our regional businesses.
“While we can expect to see continued pressure on traditional print revenue streams, we have seen digital return to growth in [the first quarter of] 2017, with better margin products, and will see growth from our investment in the i from both the newspaper and website.
“Further, we will start to see the benefits of our restructured sales teams and product roll out.
“Amid ever growing concerns from advertisers, both big and small, about the placement of their brand alongside unacceptable content, and increasing uncertainty around fake news, we believe our strategic focus on providing readers and advertisers alike with news platforms that serve as a trusted source of truth and insight, put together by teams of professional reporters who know their communities, is becoming an ever more important USP.
“By combining digital innovation with real news value, we will continue to see further growth in monetisable audiences.”