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NUJ Johnston Press chapel responds to latest company figures

The Scotman is one of JP's flagship publications  -  © Mark Thomas

2 August 2017

The JP group chapel said in a statement: "Today's results show Johnston Press has withstood significant challenges to remain profitable after reducing costs and increasing revenues in parts of the business. We hope the company recognises the need to focus on the morale and wellbeing of its workforce if this is to be maintained.

"Our members are facing a pay freeze between now and the end of the year, piling further pressure on their finances as wages fall behind the cost of living. We are also witnessing high levels of stress and workloads, because of understaffing. We look forward to continuing our dialogue with management on how these issues will be addressed."

As interim half-year figures were published, Ashley Highfield, chief executive of the newspaper group, was bullish. The company owns 200 titles throughout the UK, including The Scotsman, The Yorkshire Post, The Sheffield Star and the Portsmouth News. He said:

“While trading remains challenging, the business has responded and, as a result of our substantial efforts and clear strategic focus, I am very pleased to announce that we have posted revenue growth in the business (excluding classifieds) of 4.6 per cent during the half year.

“Digital revenues (excluding classifieds) have outweighed the declines of print advertising revenues, helped by an editorial focus that has resulted in digital audiences at a record high, and by a fantastic performance from the i newspaper which has achieved significantly enhanced performance during the 16 months since its acquisition.”

The report showed the i made a profit of £3.7m, with circulation revenue increasing from £4.4m to £11m. Overall, the regional press group announced a 3.1 per cent fall in revenue to £102.9m for the first six months of this year; the adjusted pre-tax profit slid 31 per cent to £6.7m. Advertising revenues for print and digital were down 11.8 per cent at £52.5m and classified revenues dived 28.9 per cent.

The group closed four titles in the first half of the year and sold 13 publishing titles and associated websites in East Anglia and the East Midlands to Iliffe Media for £17m in January.

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said:

"We will be asking management to look again at the pay freeze our members are facing, particularly in light of RPI inflation running at 3.5 per cent and recent fuel price increases. Matching the positive slant on these results with concrete action over the issues our members are facing would be a good step forward."

Tags: , johnston press group chapel, johnston press, local newspapers, local news matters, company results, ashley highfield, stress, pay, Scotsman, yorkshire evening post, sheffield star, portsmouth evening news