REGIONAL newspaper publisher Johnston Press achieved its first increase in underlying operating profit in seven years in 2013.
The Yorkshire Post owner saw the figure rise by 2.5 per cent to £54m, although it posted a £286.8m full year loss.
It said the loss was due to a non-cash exceptional charge of £300m relating to a reduction in the carrying value of the group’s titles and other assets.
In the year to the end of December the group reported revenues of £302.7m, down from £358.6m in 2012. The group made a pre-tax profit of £13.8m, up from £12.5m after stripping out the exceptional costs.
Underlying advertising revenues declined 6.4 per cent but digital revenues were up 19.4 per cent in the full year and 25.3 per cent in the second half of 2013.
Chief executive Ashley Highfield said: “We are delighted to see a return to underlying operating profit growth for the first time in seven years, with underlying operating profits in 2013 increasing by 2.5 per cent on 2012. Having delivered EBITDA of £62.7m in 2013, January and February has seen an eight per cent increase in EBITDA year-on-year.
“Our digital growth remains strong, with significantly increasing audiences coming to our websites in 2013 and into 2014. Along with slowing declines in print advertising revenues, and a stable circulation revenue decline rate, these are clear indications of good progress during the year in the implementation of our strategy for growth.”