Johnston Press PLC, the publisher of the Yorkshire Post and Lancashire Evening Post, has warned of a “challenging” start to the year.

Chief executive Ashley Highfield

Chief executive Ashley Highfield

Over the 26 week period (to 4th July), total revenue is expected to fall by around 5% year-on-year (compared to 4.3% over the same period last year). It’s anticipated that advertising revenue will drop by the same amount. It has issued the trading update ahead of its interim results next month.

While the year started well, there was a slowdown around the time of the election, with a number of advertisers opting to reduce, or delay their advertising spend.

“Trading conditions in the first half of 2015 have undoubtedly been challenging, especially in the period around the General Election – a time when there was also a high degree of uncertainty in the wider market,” said chief executive, Ashley Highfield.

“Whilst we expect this will have an impact on profit both at the half year and the full year, there are positive indicators coming through with digital growth and continued strong cash flow.”

There has also been a further fall in circulation, with a 5.5% drop over the period, although Johnston Press said that its “circulation volumes are showing a small improvement in the decline rate.”

Where print is in the red, its digital operations are up, with a 20% increase in unique monthly users and digital revenues reporting growth of around 17%.