Johnston Press published its latest financial statement this morning to show a ‘narrowing of decline’ in total revenues – down 3.1% in the third quarter compared with 4.3% in the first half of the year.
As well as detailing activity during the 16 weeks up until October 18, the Interim Management Statement also looks to the future when the newspaper publisher ‘will implement further efficiency and restructuring initiatives in the final quarter.’
So far, restructuring has included office closures and job cuts. Just last week, the company closed the offices of its Lancashire weekly, The Garstang Courier, as part of a drive to cut costs and reduce debts at the company, which now stand at around £200m after it completed a refinancing plan earlier in the year.
In today’s statement for investors and management, the company says: “Signs of economic growth are present in most of the Group’s geographic markets and whilst some challenges remain, the Group is focused on taking the right actions to deliver its strategy and return the business to overall top line growth. The continuing strong growth of Johnston Press’ digital platform positions the business for further improvements in 2015.”
The group, which publishes many well-known titles across the north including The Yorkshire Post, reported growth of its digital audience – up 40% year on year in September and accounting for 65% of the month’s audience.
And it points up the Scottish titles for particular note in delivering those audiences.
“WoW24/7, the online entertainment listings and going out portal, has had over 2.5m visits to the site in 2014 peaking in August when over 400,000 unique visitors came to the site, fuelled by the Edinburgh Festivals. Into 2015 we will be looking to build on the success of this year, as we seek to target key urban areas outside of London offering a valuable audience for local and national advertisers.
“The Group’s total audience is now averaging over 27m unique users per month, with the growth in its digital audience remaining strong, up 40% year on year in September and accounting for 65% of the month’s audience. Mobile audiences are averaging 6.5m a month for the year, representing a near doubling of year on year audience. Our Scottish Independence website had over 4.5m users, more than voted in the referendum.”
Investors are to receive a breakfast telephone briefing about the statement this morning. You can read more on the report here.