Johnston Press job cuts help to stem losses

AN AGGRESSIVE cost-cutting operation has pared losses at newspaper group Johnston Press, although the company has continued to suffer from falling advertising revenues.

The company, whose 250 newspapers include The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post, revealed losses yesterday of £6.8m for 2012, vastly down on the previous year’s £143.8m.

In his first full year in charge, Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield cut around 1,300 jobs – or 23 per cent of the workforce – in a bid to tackle a drop in advertising sales and circulation.

Print advertising revenues fell 14.8 per cent – a deeper cut than the previous year – while newspaper revenues were down four per cent. This sent group turnover down from £373.8m to £358.7m, with the print decline partly offset by a 12 per cent rise in digital revenues.

Former Microsoft and BBC executive Highfield, who is credited with launching the BBC’s iPlayer, has outlined a turnaround strategy based on reducing costs and boosting digital advertising sales in a bid to return to profitability.

“The changes made provide a strong platform for us to build on in 2013 as we invest in refreshing our print portfolio, and simultaneously move our operation to be real-time, digitally led, social, mobile and ever more local,” Highfield said.

Despite cutting losses, the results disappointed investors yesterday, with shares down 5.7 per cent.