The publisher of papers including the Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post said pre-tax profits fell to £8m as it took in £13.9m less from advertising than in the same period last year.
Johnston Press was boosted by a £30m payment from News International after a long-term printing contract was terminated. Without accounting for the one-off fee, turnover fell 16 per cent to £176m. Expenditure rose due to the £22.6m cost of removing staff and writing off printing presses.
Five of the company’s daily titles were turned into weeklies in April as part of a cost-cutting operation that aims to save £25m this year. Chief executive Ashley Highfield, who took over Johnston Press in November last year, said: “The first half has been a period of tremendous activity and we have made significant progress.”
Highfield has instigated a comprehensive facelift at the publisher, relaunching 23 of its nearly 250 titles and focusing on digital growth. Sales of online advertising were a rare boost, rising 8.4 per cent to £10.3m.
Shares in Johnston Press fell six per cent in trading yesterday. Gareth Davies of Numis said results were “a little below our expectations” in a “very tough” advertising backdrop.