Johnston Press ad revenue drops 8% as recruitment falls
LONDON - Johnston Press has reported an 8% drop in like-for-like print ad revenues in the second half of the year, following a 12.2% decline in recruitment ad revenue and no discernible improvement in the UK ad market.
According to its second-half trading update, the regional newspaper group, which publishes more than 300 titles including The Scotsman and The Edinburgh Evening News, said difficult market conditions and industry restructuring were responsible for a double-digit drop off in revenue for the motor ad sector.
However, the fall in revenue in the recruitment sector, which was down 24.2% in the first half of the year, has now slowed to 12.2%. Johnston Press said its property ad offering, CV matching and online local business directories continued to experience growth.
The news follows finance director Stuart Paterson's rebuttal of speculation that the group was about to purchase assets from Trinity Mirror, should the publisher choose to sell off some of its regional titles in the near future.
Paterson said: "We are as interested as anyone in any of these assets... but it would be presumptuous to assume that any are going to be sold."
The group said the integration of last year's acquisitions, which include The Scotsman from the Barclay brothers, was progressing well and on track to meet its earning expectations. It also opened a new printing facility in Dinnington, Sheffield, which it said has allowed it to close its aging plants in Hartlepool and Northern Ireland.
In a statement, Johnston Press said: "The board does not see any early indication of improvements in advertising markets other than those coming from easier comparatives.
"However, 2007 will benefit from the News International contract running on the new press in Dinnington and this, together with the ongoing contribution from recent acquisitions and continued efficiency improvements, should help to mitigate the impact the impact of any continued weakness in advertising demand."
Johnston Press is due to reveal its preliminary results on March 7 2006.
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