Double joy for media group Johnston Press with prestigious printing deal and rising pre-tax profits

Ashley Highfield, chief executive of Johnston Press.
Ashley Highfield, chief executive of Johnston Press.
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Media group Johnston Press, the publisher of the Peterborough Telegraph, has secured a multi-million-pound deal to print the Daily Express and the Daily Star.

The announcement of the five year deal came today (Wednesday) as the company revealed an increase in underlying pre-tax profit of 235 per cent to £29.9 million last year- up from £8.9 million a year earlier.

We are seeing the business transform into a modern multimedia organisation.

Ashley Highfield, chief executive

Operating profit also increased for the second consecutive year to £55.5 million, but total underlying revenues of £265.9 million reflect a decline of 4.4 per cent.

Digital revenues at the business are up 20 per cent - up from £24.0 million to £28.8 million representing 17.4 per cent of advertising revenues compared to 13.8 per cent a year earlier.

The company’s digital audience grew by 35.8 per cent to an average of 16.7 million in 2014 compared to 12.3 million in 2013.

The firm has also seen continued debt reduction with net debt down to £184.6 million compared to £302.0 million in 2013.

Under the new publishing deal, Johnston Press will print the Daily Express, Daily Star, Sunday Express and Daily Star Sunday at its Dinnington site in Sheffield after securing the contract to print Express Newspapers’ North of England titles.

Johnston Press chief executive, Ashley Highfield, said: “Following the refinancing we are seeing the business transform into a modern multimedia organisation.

“The strong growth in our digital audiences and accelerated growth of digital revenues, aided by the roll-out of Digital Kitbag and the launch of Sky Adsmart and 1XL are changing the shape of the company.

“We are excited about the future for the business and confident of delivering on our strategic objectives of growing an engaged audience base and returning our business to top line growth.

He added: “The new print contract is testament to the quality of service provided by the highly trained teams at our printing sites and demonstrates the faith other media groups have in our ability to deliver exceptional quality products.”

It is anticipated that issues will first roll off the Dinnington presses in July.