Johnston Press sees ad revenues slump

Regional newspaper group Johnston Press, publisher of The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post, has seen its advertising revenues fall by 15.5 percent in the 44 weeks to November 1.

The group revealed in a trading update this morning that like-for-like revenues in property advertising were down 48.4 percent on a year ago in the most recent 17 week period. Employment sales fell by 32.1 percent, motors dropped 24.3 percent and display advertising dropped 12.1 percent.

Print advertising was down by 17.4 percent, but digital advertising continued to rise with 36.8 percent growth, although this has has slowed in recent weeks as the economic crisis has worsened.

Johnston has already lowered its headcount by 963 people this year - though it said the majority of job losses were the result of normal staff turnover and not achieved through redundancies.

Andy Viner, head of media at accountancy experts BDO Stoy Hayward, said today's results from Johnston Press show 'just how exposed' to classified advertising certain sectors of the media industry remain.

He said: "Johnston has talked about reducing head count to cut costs, but fails to address the structural problems of the business and new revenue opportunities as consumers change their media habits. Will more drastic measures be needed in the future?"

Viner added that the key to Johnston’s future could lie in the hands of former Archant boss, John Fry, who starts as the company’s CEO in the New Year. He questioned: "Will he be able to make enough of an impact on the company and refocus the business in this rapidly changing environment?”

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