Johnston Press cuts rate of revenue decline amid 'signs of economic growth' in most markets

Regional newspaper group Johnston Press has reported a narrowing in the rate of revenue decline over the 16 weeks to mid October from 4.3 per cent to 3.1 per cent.

Total advertising revenue is said to be down 3.4 per cent year on year but digital revenue is up 40 per cent.

Total digital audience is said to be up 40 per cent year on year to 6.5m “users” per month.

The company said it has now begun selling regional TV advertising to Sky subscribers, via the Sky AdSmart scheme, and it has also taken 879 orders for its Digital Kitbag local marketing product.

The company said it remains on target to return to growth.

"Signs of economic growth are present in most of the group’s geographic markets and whilst some challenges remain, the group is focused on taking the right actions to deliver its strategy and return the business to overall top line growth."

The Johnston Press share price has remained level at around 4p (see chart for last six months above via Yahoo Finance) since a debt-for shares deal in May which saw a massive increase in the number of shares issued.

The group is planning to consolidate 50 existing shares into one new ordinary share in a new share capital reorganisation.

The debt refinancing deal completed in June saw Johnston Press issue 4.5bn new shares at 4p a share to convert its debt into a new fixed rate bond of £225m payable over five years.

The net result was a reduction in overall debt by a third to less than £200m with interest payments said to be down £20m a year to somewhere in the high £10ms.

Meanwhile the company continues to slash costs and sack journalists.

The latest cuts saw 10 photographers go across its newspaper titles in the south of England.

In 2012 and 2013 Johnston Press cut 1,600 jobs.

Read the Johnston Press interim management statement in full.

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