Johnston Press

Newspaper title publisher Johnston Press reported its first increase in operating profit for nearly seven years in spite of the challenging economic environment.

Ashley Highfield, chief executive of the Edinburgh-based group, said JP is on track to deliver a strong performance in 2013.

The group, which also publishes the Fenland Citizen, Peterborough Telegraph and The Northampton Chronicle & Echo, saw like-for-like revenues fall 11.4 per cent in the 18 weeks to May 4 with the decline slowing month on month.

Mr Highfield said: “For the first time in almost seven years we are in a position to report a year-on-year increase in operating profit for the period.

“While the economic environment continued to be challenging, the implementation of our strategy progressed further with the successful completion of the relaunch of the vast majority of our titles, together with the further development of our digital business and the rollout of new hardware and software to all sales staff and journalists.

“With our reduced cost base and our continued focus on debt reduction, we remain on track to deliver a strong performance in 2013.”

JP said digital audience growth has continued, with monthly website visitors for April showing a 16.4 per cent year-on-year increase to 11.6m.

The group reported strong growth in digital revenues of 8.1 per cent.

The publisher has relaunched 183 titles and has started rolling out new websites for every title.