Ad revenue down 9 per cent at Johnston Press

Yea-on-year advertising revenue at Johnston Press has fallen by 9 per cent, according to figures released by the company this morning.

It comes on the same day the publisher announced a partnership with motors.co.uk, which will be integrated into the company's network of websites

According to today's interim management statement, covering the 18 weeks to 7 May, ad revenue dropped by 9.6 per cent in the first quarter of this year but slowed to an 8 per cent decline in the second.

Classified print advertising was down 11.5 per cent, with the struggling employment classifieds section dropping 16 per cent.

Print display advertising also had a 'difficult start to the year'and was down 10 per cent year on year, though the company added that in recent weeks it had 'seen some encouraging signs in this category".

Digital advertising had an 'excellent start to the year", according to today's report, up 14 per cent in the first 18 weeks. In the first quarter it was up 9.6 per cent but in the second it rose by more than 26 per cent.

Elsewhere, circulation revenue was described as 'resilient", down 2 per cent year on year, with evidence of a slowing in the rate of decline of weekly circulation figures.

Johnston said: 'The advertising outlook for the year remains volatile, but we anticipate that the strategy that the Group has set out will provide benefits from the relaunches of all of the Group's paid-for titles during the year, along with continued improvement in digital performance throughout 2012.

'We expect that the results for the full year will be in line with market expectations.

Meanwhile, Johnston said the deal with motors.co.uk will see it launch a 'new local, online motors platform powered by the UK's second largest car search response network".

The new motors platform will be integrated within each of Johnston's 223 local websites and will carry the local website brand.

Chief executive Ashley Highfield said: 'Motors.co.uk is one of the most dynamic players in the online motors space and this partnership gives us an exciting new platform for our local websites and great reach for our motors advertisers.

'It forms another step in our strategy to deliver highly engaged, local website portals across all of our markets."

Last month Johnston announced a statutory loss of £143.8m for the full financial year after underwriting the value of its regional newspaper business.

Chief executive Ashley Highfield unveiled an eight-year plan to pay back the company's £351.7m debt mountain and return to growth last month.

The latest figures show the company's debt had risen to £363.3m as a result of the costs charged by lenders as part of its latest refinancing deal.

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