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Johnston Press makes a profit at expense of 1,600 jobs

28 March 2014

The loss of almost 1,600 journalists' jobs at Johnston Press over the past two years – with more expected this year – is not sustainable and is leading to unacceptable workloads for those who remain, the NUJ has said.

The figures were revealed as Johnston Press announced an increase in operating profits and its net debt was reduced by £17.3m to £302m.

Laura Davison, national organiser, said:

"While the union welcomes Johnston Press's first profit increase in seven years, we do not welcome the fact that it has been made as a result of a huge cull of journalists' jobs. Local newspapers need quality journalism and quality journalists and this is made difficult when experienced staff go and those who remain struggle with an unacceptable workload.

"It is vital that the company secures a new refinancing of its debt facilities, as its lifeblood is being drained by having to serve its huge debt."

The company put out a statement saying: "Underlying operating profit increased by 2.5 per cent from £53.0m to £54.3m, the first increase in underlying operating profit for seven years."  It said that digital revenues were up 19.4 per cent in the full year and 25.3 per cent in the second half of 2013.

With advertising revenues down 6.4 per cent on an underlying basis and newspaper sales revenues down 4.5 per cent (2.1 per cent on an underlying basis) the profit increase was achieved by cutting costs.Turnover was down 5.5 per cent on an underlying basis to £291.9m and by 15.6 per cent overall to £302.8m. Restructuring costs and a write-down in the value of assets meant Johnston Press reported a statutory loss of £286.8m.

The group chapel said:

"The continuing strangulation of the company through debt and interest charges is coming at a high cost for Johnston Press staff. We now know the sheer scale of the numbers who have left the company. Journalists have seen colleagues leaving in droves and are facing increased workloads alongside cuts to terms and conditions. That is not a sustainable situation."

Tags: , johnston press, finances, cuts, profits, newspapers, local newspapers, regional newspapers