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6 December 2017
Johnston Press plc
Update on the "i" newspaper
· Johnston Press brings the i newspaper to average monthly profits of £1 million for the period September to November 2017
· Revenue at the i newspaper for 11 months to November of £27.5m (£18.5m April to Dec '16)
· Margin increased from 20% pre-acquisition to over 30% in H2 '17
· Increased newspaper sales revenue, and year-on-year growth in advertising market share, alongside savings made from contract renegotiations - have enabled further investment in editorial
· Stable circulation exceeding 266,000 copies per day (average audited ABC for Jan-Oct '17 )
· Saturday's iweekend edition has seen circulation increase on average by 12,000 since re-launch in September 2017 (unaudited)
Johnston Press plc ("Johnston Press" or "the Company") today updates the market that the i newspaper is trading in line with its ambitious plan, with EBITDA in September, October and November averaging £1 million per month, for the first time since acquisition.
Johnston Press purchased the title for £24m in April 2016 from The Independent*, part of ESI Media. Prior to acquisition, the i newspaper delivered annual EBITDA of £5.2m on revenues of £26.1m for the year ended 27 September 2015.
In Johnston Press' Q3 '17 trading update in November, it announced total like-for-like revenues for the i increasing 17% in the quarter (with print advertising up 14% year on year). The i newspaper's increased revenues and improved profit margin is the result of the Johnston Press management's strategy of investing in improved content under editor Oly Duff's clear leadership, increased brand awareness, distribution, and advertiser solutions, while delivering efficiencies.
Over the last nineteen months, there has been a significant investment in the editorial team, with further roles planned for Q1 of 2018, including a Policy Editor with a Brexit focus and inews.co.uk Head of Audience Development - bringing the headcount up to sixty-six. Alongside this investment, Johnston Press has taken steps to maximise the value and appeal of the brand to both print and digital audiences. This included a relaunch of its Saturday offering in September, with a fresh new iweekend product, which is now attracting 12,000 additional readers each week compared to pre-launch.
Under Johnston Press, the i newspaper's market share of main news advertisers has seen growth of 2%; from 20% during the pre-acquisition period of January - November 2015 to 22% in January - November 2017 (addynamix). Total print and digital advertising revenue has grown 17%, year-on-year for January - November 2017.
Since acquisition, the Monday to Friday cover price has risen from 40p to 60p, with iweekend now at 80p, continuing to offer exceptional value. Circulation has remained steady at 266,000, verified by the Audit Bureau of Circulation Data. The i newspaper's market share among the quality newspapers has increased from 17.5% at acquisition to 20%; a significant achievement for a 7-year-old title, in an established market.
The i newspaper has broader geographical appeal than its competitors, with 85% of its circulation coming from outside of London. To capitalise on this, Johnston Press has created a Central Investigative Journalism Unit that creates national campaigns for the i and multiple local spin-off campaigns across the Johnston Press network.
The British Press Awards, the Foreign Press Association and the News Awards are among many awarding-bodies that have shortlisted the i newspaper in 2017, with the Campaign Big Awards recently awarding the paper's 2017 General Election campaign with Print Ad of the year.
The launch of inews.co.uk on acquisition - evolving the brand from a print-only proposition to multi-media - has also been a success, attracting over 2 million unique viewers per month from a standing start.
The investment in the product has been underpinned by tight cost management, contract renegotiation and reductions to inherited costs.
Together, these strategic changes have enabled Johnston Press to more than meet the objectives for the acquisition as outlined in the shareholders' circular issued in March 2016, and provide a platform for the future.
The Group, as a whole, continues to make good progress with its strategic initiatives and, while trading conditions remain very challenging, the Board of Johnston Press remains confident that trading for the full year will be in line with its expectations.
Ashley Highfield, Chief Executive of Johnston Press, said:
"The i newspaper is a unique offering: quality impartial journalism in a concise format with an eye to value for money. It's broadening appeal amongst both readers and advertisers since Johnston Press acquired the title is testament to its quality and trusted content, alongside a clear and successful strategy. We will continue to innovate around this fantastic newspaper and build on its national appeal, in both print and digital - as we progress as a modern multi-media group."
*Independent Print Ltd
Johnston Press plc
Ashley Highfield, CEO
020 7612 2600
020 7250 1446
About Johnston Press
Johnston Press is a leading multimedia business with a vibrant mix of news brands that reach national, regional and local audiences. We provide news and information services to local and regional communities through our extensive portfolio of hundreds of publications and websites.
Sharing information and opinion remains at the heart of what we do and our titles, which include iconic publications such as the i newspaper, The Scotsman, The Yorkshire Post and News Letter in Northern Ireland are read via traditional print, online platforms and mobile devices by 37.8 million people every month.
We are experts in combining national reach with local targeting and are better equipped than ever to help advertisers tell their stories, too, through our trusted platforms.
The report contains forward looking statements. Although the Group believes that the expectation reflected in these forward- looking statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that the expectations will prove to have been correct. Due to the inherent uncertainties, including both economic and business risk factors underlying such forward looking information, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward looking statements. The Group undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.
Market abuse regulation
This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of Regulation (EU) No 596/2014.
Johnston Press Legal Entity Identifier: 213800JFIBCR4LGUA242 Classification: Inside Information.
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