Johnston Press saw its advertising revenue decline by 6.4 per cent last year to £181.7m, as it posted losses of £286.8m.
Despite advertising declining, digital revenues grew by 19.4 per cent for the year, with digital display revenue up by 30.3 per cent as the company’s digital audience was recorded at 21.1m in December, with 13.3m unique users.
Print advertising fell by 9.5 per cent to £157.1m, while newspaper sales were down by 2.1 per cent to £87.7m.
‘Significant exceptional items’ however meant that the company recorded a statutory loss before tax of £286.8m, mainly as a result of restructuring, while the company’s net debt was lowered by £17.3m to £302m.
Statutory loss before tax of £286.8m was said to be due to significant exceptional items.
Ashley Highfield, CEO of Johnston Press, said: "We are delighted to see a return to underlying operating profit growth for the first time in seven years, with underlying operating profits in 2013 increasing by 2.5 per cent on 2012. Having delivered EBITDA of £62.7m in 2013, January and February has seen an 8 per cent increase in EBITDA year on year. Our digital growth remains strong, with significantly increasing audiences coming to our websites in 2013 and into 2014. Along with slowing declines in print advertising revenues, and a stable circulation revenue decline rate, these are clear indications of good progress during the year in the implementation of our strategy for growth.”
He also highlight the relaunch of the company’s website and print titles, while attempting to ‘re-invent’ its community newspapers through user generated content and the launch if SME digital marketing service, DigitalKitbag.
Net debt was down £17.3m to £302.0m for the year with repayments of £33.1m partially offset by the increased PIK interest accrual of £12.1m.