Johnston Press plc today publishes its Interim Management Statement which has been drawn up for the 44 weeks to 6 November 2010, this being the last practicable date, as required by the UK Listing Authority's Disclosure and Transparency Rules.
Total advertising in the second half of the year to date (18 weeks) on a like-for-like basis is down by 5.4%, an improvement on the first half decline of 6.3%. Property advertising continues to grow with other categories, excluding recruitment, either continuing to show reduced rates of decline or growing in some of our geographic divisions. The decline in print advertising revenues excluding recruitment in the second half to date is 2.5%, with the decline in recruitment advertising in the same period being 29.1%. In the last 18 weeks, public sector sourced advertising has been particularly difficult and although it only made up approximately 9% of our total advertising in the third Quarter, the declines have been sufficient to slow the overall rate of improvement in advertising performance. Digital advertising growth has continued with our employment offering continuing to gain market share in the regions where we publish. Over 50% of our news websites have now been upgraded to the new platform which provides improved interactivity, enhanced content and will facilitate the roll out of our business directory offering, in partnership with Qype, in 2011.
Despite higher newsprint prices in the second half, the Group continues to make year on year cost savings with total savings for the year now expected to be in excess of £20m. In order to further reduce our costs in the Republic of Ireland, where economic conditions remain very difficult, the printing operation in Limerick will be closed resulting in an exceptional cost in the region of £5m, the majority of which relates to the write-down of the remaining asset value of the press.
Net Debt continues to reduce, falling to £388m at the end of October, a reduction of £13m in the second half to date. This decrease has allowed us to pull forward the £30m reduction of our facilities scheduled in 2011 to 30 September 2010 and should save the Group around £1m in interest costs next year.
Despite the decline in total advertising revenues being slightly worse than previously anticipated, this has been largely offset by increased cost savings and therefore it is expected that the outcome for the year will be satisfactory.
For further information please contact:
John Fry, Chief Executive Officer or
Stuart Paterson, Chief Financial Officer
020 7466 5000 (today) or
0131 225 3361 (thereafter)
Richard Oldworth /Christian Goodbody
020 7466 5000
The Interim Management Statement may contain forward looking statements, which have been made by the Directors in good faith based on the information available to them at the time of their approval of the Statement, and should be treated with caution due to inherent uncertainties, which are beyond Johnston Press' ability to control or estimate precisely and include both economic and business risk factors, underlying such forward looking information.