Johnston Press released its interim management statement today which shows total advertising revenues for the 44 weeks to 1 November 2008 were 15.5 per cent down on the same period in the prior year. The statement reflects concerns of regional editors at the Society of Edtiors conference this week (see post below) about the impact the economic recession is having on the profitability of the regional press.
The Johnston statement says: "At the half year results announcement on 27 August 2008, the Group disclosed total advertising revenues had declined for the first 26 weeks of the year on a like-for-like and constant currency basis by 9.5 per cent. Overall performance has deteriorated since then due to further substantial declines in property advertising combined with significant falls in employment and display advertising as the UK and Republic of Ireland economies suffered from both the "credit crunch" and a reduction in economic activity as both countries encountered recessionary pressures.
"In weeks 27-44, there were year-on-year declines in property of 48.4%, employment 32.1%, motors 24.3% and display 12.1% on a like-for-like and constant currency basis."
Newspaper sales revenues are said to be "slightly down" on last year with circulations suffering from both the general economic conditions and a significant reduction in levels of interest in the property market. Johnston's net debt at 1 November 2008 was £465 million, a reduction of £19 million from the balance at 30 June 2008.
The statement adds: "Given the challenging and deteriorating economic and operating environment, the Group is concentrating on managing its cost base." This suggest more job cuts could be on the cards.