Scotland business

Johnston Press posts fall in full-year revenues

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Publisher Johnston Press has posted a fall in full-year revenues, as "Brexit-related uncertainties" outweighed a slight recovery in year-end sales.

The group, whose titles include The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post, said revenues for the year to 31 December fell 6%.

It followed a period of "difficult trading" after the EU referendum, when revenue dropped 5%.

However, overall revenue rose 1% during the final three months of the year.

The Edinburgh-based publisher attributed the improvement in part to "strategic initiatives" implemented during the first half.

Over the year, digital advertising revenues - excluding classifieds - rose by 1%.

However, that increase failed to offset a drop in print advertising, which sent total advertising revenues lower by 7%.

Full-year circulation revenues rose 11%, bolstered by growing pick-up of the i newspaper, which has increased its market share from 17% to about 20% since being acquired by Johnston Press last year.

When excluding the i, circulation revenues fell 9%.

'Challenging market'

Chief executive Ashley Highfield said: "Despite the challenging print market, including a very difficult summer prompted by Brexit-related uncertainties, we have seen some improvement in our markets during the fourth quarter."

However, the company is expecting further headwinds as the industry continues to grapple with falling advertising revenues and print circulation.

The post-referendum collapse of the pound has also increased the cost of imported paper and ink, piling price pressure on publishers.

Sterling has fallen nearly 18% against the US dollar and about 10% against the euro since the Brexit vote.

Mr Highfield said: "Whilst we expect the overall market environment to remain challenging for both the group and the industry as a whole, we remain focused on delivering on our strategic priorities of growing our overall audience, driving the further success of the i newspaper, delivering a more efficient editorial and sales operation and strengthening the balance sheet."

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