Johnston Press has revealed that the i newspaper is now making an average monthly profit of £1m.
And it said the profit margin of the title in the second half of this year was 30 per cent of turnover, compared with a 20 per cent margin when it was sold by Evgeny Levedev in April 2016.
Circulation for the i (formerly a spin-off from The Independent) was 263,023 in October (down 5.7 per cent year on year). Of this just over 200,000 were actively purchased sales (the rest were bulks).
Before the Johnston Press takeover i made annual profit (EBITDA) of £5.2m on turnover of £26.1m for the year to 27 September 2015.
Johnston said that revenue for i increased 17 per cent in the third quarter of this year, with print advertising revenue up 14 per cent year on year.
It said: “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.”
Johnston said there has been “significant investment in the editorial team” with more new hires planned early next year – including a policy editor to focus on Brexit and a head of audience development for inews.co.uk.
This will bring editorial numbers at the title to 66, compared with around 50 at the time of the 2016 take over.
Increased profits have been driven by cover price rises under Johnston from 40p to 60p for the Monday to Friday edition and up to 80p on Saturdays.
Johnston said it has created a Central Investigative Journalism Unit that creates national campaigns for the i and multiple local spin-off stories across Johnston Press local newspapers around the UK.
The website inews.co.uk is said to be attracting 2m unique viewers per month.
Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield 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.”