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February 1, 2018

Johnston Press records rise in newspaper circulation revenue boosted by ‘exceptional’ year for i paper

By Arun Kakar

Total revenues at Johnston Press fell 5 per cent year-on-year in 2017, the company has revealed in a full-year trading update.

Total publishing revenues (total advertising and newspaper circulation revenue) from continuing operations were down 6 per cent year-on-year, rising to 13 per cent excluding the i newspaper.

The publisher said digital growth remains its “strategic priority”. It said digital revenues, including classified advertising income, was up 3 per cent (14 per cent excluding classifieds).

Unique visitor numbers increased 13 per cent to an average of 25.4m across all sites and average page views up 19 per cent, to 108m per month.

Newspaper circulation revenue was up 2 per cent, which the company said benefited from the i paper’s “exceptional” year.

The company said cash balances on 30 December were at £25m.

Circulation revenue for the i paper was up 19 per cent. Advertising revenues rose 26 per cent in the second half of last year compared to the same period in 2016.

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Digital audiences for the i averaged over 1.4m unique browsers per month, up 45 per cent year on year, the company claimed.

Johnston claimed last year that the paper was making a £1m a month.

Johnston chief executive Ashley Highfield said: “A slowing down of top line decline is encouraging while further growth in our audiences and digital revenues, underpinned by additional cost reduction, and enabled us to maintain profit margins.

“In 2018, alongside our strategic review of financing options, we will continue to invest in the business, as we seek to accelerate digital growth further while reinforcing our offering of quality, trusted content across all platforms.”

Johnston announced 21 new editorial roles earlier this month, and stands to employ 30 BBC-funded local democracy reporters. 

Full figures are expected in March.

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