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Johnston Press reveals plans to sell a number of underperforming newspapers

Johnston Press has announced plans to sell a number of newspapers in order to pay off mounting debt which has left investors increasingly concerned.

Just one week after Johnston Press announced that it would cut up to 100 editorial jobs as part of a cost saving strategy, it revealed that it has identified "a number of brands" that are not "part of its long-term future" and would put them up for sale.

In a trading statement released today (19 January), the publisher of The Scotsman laid out the criteria it used to decide which titles would go.

While it never named any specific newspapers, it did say that titles outside the regions it wants to focus on or which have not shown sufficient signs of digital growth or ad revenue would be put up for sale.

A spokesperson for Johnston Press it would “make further announcements when, and if, it is appropriate” and added that proceeds from any potential sale could be “invested in our growth markets, and to further deliver the business.”

The company’s decision to sell the titles is most likely a move designed to help it pay off its net debt which is reported to stand at around £181m by the end of the year.

Digital ad revenue for the publisher grew 12 per cent last year; however, the increase was not enough to make up for a 12 per cent fall in print advertising and a 7 per cent decline in circulation revenues. The trading update, for the year to 2 January 2016, said underlying total revenues had fallen 7 per cent year on year.

Source: Press Gazette

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