Scotsman publisher ‘writes down’ value of its newspapers by over £160m

THE publisher of The Scotsman newspaper has written down the value of its newspapers portfolio by over £160million.

Says Johnston Press, in its financial results published today for last year, what it describes as ‘impairment of the value’ of its titles of £163.7million means a pre-tax loss for 2011 of £143.8million.

The figures however also show that underlying operating profit (calculated by not including non-recurring items such as one-off write downs) at £64.4million, albieit 10.3 per cent down on the previous year.

Johnston Press publishes 18 daily newspapers and more than 230 weekly newspapers throughout the UK and Ireland.

While advertising revenue was down nine per cent during last year, the figures also show net debt down by £35million or 9.1 per cent, between 2010 and 2011, to £351.7million.

Total revenue was down by 6.1 per cent, from £398.1million to £373.8million, while underlying total costs were down £16.9million despite a rise in the cost of newsprint, by £7.6million.

In a statement, chief executive, Ashley Highfield, said of the figures: “Although the prospects for the economy remain downbeat in the short term, I believe we can return Johnston Press to being a growth business through the twin track approach of re-launching and revitalising our papers while simultaneously growing our websites, and taking full advantage of the opportunities created by technology and the changing media demands of our users to deliver innovative propositions.”

Earlier this month, Highfield announced a new strategy for the company, including a relaunching of its 170 paid-for newspaper titles – except four: The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday, the Yorkshire Post and the Belfast Newsletter.