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EMBARGOED UNTIL 07:00 THURSDAY 1ST FEBRUARY 2018
For the 52 week period ended 30 December 2017
Exceptional i newspaper performance and growing audiences across portfolio
Johnston Press plc ("the Group"), a leading multi-media group in the UK, provides its trading update (unaudited) for the 52 weeks to 30 December 2017.
The Board confirms that (subject to audit) the adjusted EBITDA is in line with the Board's expectations. Cash balances at 30 December were £25m.
Total revenues from continuing operations for the 52 week period fell 5% year on year.
Digital revenue from continuing operations, excluding classified categories, was up 14%, while digital revenue including classified categories was up 3%.
Digital audience growth remains a strategic priority, and the number of unique users grew to an average of 25.4m unique browsers per month, a 13% increase on last year, with 108m average page views per month, 19% up on 2016.
In line with our strategy of focusing on cities and towns with the largest digital growth opportunity, web traffic (i.e. page views) on The Belfast Newsletter, was up 48%; Yorkshire Evening Post (Leeds) was up 47% with the Sheffield Star up 42% and The Edinburgh News up 39%, year on year.
Newspaper circulation revenue from continuing operations was up 2% year on year, benefiting from the full year effect of the i newspaper, acquired in April 2016.
Total publishing revenues (total advertising and newspaper circulation revenue) from continuing operations were down 6% year on year, 13% excluding the i newspaper.
Update on the i
The i newspaper had an exceptional year, taking some 20% market share of the 'Quality' weekday market. Newspaper circulation revenue was up 19%, and advertising was up 26% in the second half, on a like for like basis.*
The relaunch of the weekend edition in September 2017 saw an average increase in circulation in the three months post relaunch of 9k copies, to 272k. Digital audiences averaged over 1.4m unique browsers per month, up 45% year on year.
Contract printing revenue was up 4% year on year with the benefits of winning new printing contracts (including the Daily Mail and Metro) outweighing circulation decline in some existing contract print titles.
Strategic review of financing options
Last year, the Group announced it had commenced a strategic review to assess the financing options available to the Group in relation to its £220m 8.625% senior secured notes which become due for repayment on 1 June 2019.
The Board subsequently announced that it was approaching its largest bondholders regarding the formation of an ad hoc committee of bondholders, which was formed in October. Discussions with advisers to the ad hoc committee are in progress. Any proposal that results from these discussions will remain subject to negotiation and the consent of relevant stakeholders, and there can be no certainty that a formal proposal will be forthcoming.
Ashley Highfield, CEO of Johnston Press, said
"We remained focused on delivering the priorities outlined to shareholders, amidst an extremely challenging trading environment. The i has delivered a very strong performance in our first full year of ownership. A slowing down of top line decline is encouraging while further growth in our audiences and digital revenues, underpinned by additional cost reduction, enabled us to maintain profit margins.
"In 2018, alongside our strategic review of financing options, we will continue to invest in the business, including recruiting 32 journalists funded by the BBC, and a further 21 editorial staff and 10 specialist digital sales staff as we seek to accelerate digital growth further while reinforcing our offering of quality, trusted content across all platforms."
Adjusted EBITDA is operating profit before depreciation and exceptional items.
Continuing operations includes the i newspaper from 10 April 2016, and excludes East Midlands titles disposed of in January 2017, from 2016 and 2017.
Johnston Press plc
Ashley Highfield, CEO
David King, CFO
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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