Johnston Press sees profits soar

Johnston Press has returned a sparkling set of figures for 2002 and its chairman has pledged that the group will continue to focus on community-based news.

The company returned pre-tax profits of £93m – up 127 per cent – with turnover increasing 43 per cent to £428m.

The 236-year-old Edinburgh publishing group has seen the early benefits of buying Regional Independent Media – purchased last year for £560m.

That followed on the 1996 purchase of Emap’s newspaper portfolio for £211m and 1999’s £266m Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers deal.

Potential new targets for Johnston, with about £120m in its war chest and debt cut from £600m to £500m in nine months, could include Archant (formerly Eastern Counties Newspaper Group), Midland News Association and Trinity Mirror’s regional division, which includes the Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail.

Johnston chairman Roger Parry said: “It is board policy to be editorially neutral and community biased. We recognise that our daily, weekly and less frequent publications with their associated special supplements and web sites will only thrive if they make a strong connection with the communities they serve.

“This is why we place such store by editorial independence and a single-mindedly local approach.”

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