Johnston Press sounds optimistic note

EDINBURGH-based publisher, Johnston Press, has reported on an improved trend in the advertising market for its titles, which include The Scotsman and the Edinburgh Evening News.

Johnston reports, in its latest management briefing, that the decline in the market has continued in the second half of the year, with a total advertising dip of 22.1 per cent over the past five months on the previous year.

However, average weekly advertising revenues in September and October were at the same levels as in May and June, adding that “improvements in the property market (are) offsetting a continued decline in recruitment related revenues”.

With cost-savings of around £50 million being sought by the end of this year, spearheaded by the recent closure of Scotsman Publications printing plants at Newhaven and in Kilkenny, Johnston anticipates redundancy costs of £12 million and write-downs on the value of its properties.

However, despite declining sales, management is said to be “confident of delivering an operating profit in line with current market expectations for 2009″.

Johnston Press finance director, Stuart Paterson, confirmed that no significant disposals are expected “in the short term”.