Johnston Press issues the following trading update ahead of the announcement of the Group's interim results for the 26 weeks to 30 June 2005, scheduled for 31 August 2005.
Since our announcement on 16 March 2005, when we advised that like-for-like advertising revenue was up 2.6% in the first two months of the year, the trading environment has become more difficult with cumulative growth on the same basis to the end of April of 1.4%. May suffered the traditional adverse impact of the
General Election and was down by 4.7%. The reduction was primarily due to a fall in recruitment advertising and the absence of bookings from the Central Office of Information. However, the financial results will show a better cumulative performance than the like-for-like because what would have been the poor first week of 2005 was actually included as the 53rd week of 2004. Consequently actual advertising revenue growth for the first 23 weeks of 2005 was 1.5% ahead of the equivalent period in 2004.
For the same period circulation revenue was flat and, driven by good progress in electronic publishing, other revenues delivered strong growth, up 13%. As expected, third party print revenues have been reduced by the planned closure of the Portsmouth heatset press. The second 15 year print contract with News International at our Portsmouth facility has now become unconditional as planning permission was granted on 25 May 2005.
The Group continues to maintain good control of its costs and steps have been taken to mitigate the increase in newsprint prices. The Board therefore expects a satisfactory outcome for the year, despite a cautious outlook for advertising.
Tim Bowdler, Chief Executive or
Stuart Paterson, Finance Director
Johnston Press plc
Tel: 0131 225 3361
Richard Oldworth/Suzanne Brocks
Tel: 020 7466 5000