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‘i’ newspaper propping up sales at Johnston Press

i newsJohnston Press, owner of The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and Falkirk Herald, has revealed figures showing that the ‘i’ newspaper is helping to shore up a slump in group revenue and circulation.

The company is also looking to sell more titles, with a group of papers in East Anglia believed to be on the block.

In a trading update for the 17 weeks to 29 October the company said group revenues year-on-year were down 5.1% and in October by 3.2%.

Excluding the i, which the company acquired in April, adjusted like for like revenues declined by 16% and 14.2% in October.

Group circulation revenues year-on-year increased 18.8% for the 17 week period, with October up 22.5%.

Excluding the i, like-for-like circulation revenue declined 9.8% for the 17 week period, and 7.9% in October.

Circulation of the i increased 4.6% to an average of 290,000 per day in September. The i has grown its market share from 18.5% to over 20% of the quality newspaper segment.

Take out the bag, crisps and biscuits and how much is left for the paper?

The company gave no updates on circulation of any of its other titles.

Digital advertising revenues (excluding classifieds) returned to growth of 8.4% in October, but fell 2.8% for the 17 week period as a whole, (0.6% down in H1).

Excluding the i, like for like digital advertising revenues were down 3.4% for the 17 week period, but grew 7.9% in October.

Combined print and digital advertising revenues excluding classifieds, which  the company said were “particularly affected by tough trading conditions earlier this year”, were down 6.8% for the 17 week period,  and by 3.5% in October.

Excluding the i, like for like combined print and digital advertising revenues were down 11.8% in the 17 week period and 7.7% in October.

Transactional revenues (telesales out of the Media Sales Centre) including classifieds, were down 4.3% for the 17 weeks, (2.8% down in October), having been down 7.2% in H1. 

The classified categories of employment, property and motors, were down 31.9% for the 17 week period, impacted by the structural shift in the market and now represent less than 16% of total Group revenues in October.

Audience growth remains a priority for the group and the number of digital unique users has grown on average from 20.3m to 23.1m per month for September year-on-year.

In a statement the company said: “Following the disposal of the Isle of Man titles in August, we continue to explore opportunities for further divestment, and will provide an update when appropriate. 

“We remain focused on cutting costs to mitigate revenue declines and the impact of sterling weakness on paper prices, and assuming no further deterioration in trading conditions, the Board expects performance to continue in line with expectations.”

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