Johnston Press has published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2014.

Key highlights:

  • Profit before tax: Underlying profit before tax increased 235.1% to £29.9m from £8.9m
  • Operating profit: Increased for the second consecutive year to £55.5m – up 2.8%
  • Revenue: Total underlying revenues of £265.9m reflect a decline of 4.4% for the period
  • Digital revenues: Up 20.0% for the period, from £24.0m to £28.8m representing 17.4% of advertising revenues (2013: 13.8%)
  • Digital audience grew by 35.8% to an average of 16.7m in 2014 (2013: 12.3m)
  • Cost reduction: Operating costs reduced by £13.8m net of investment in digital
  • Operating margin: Up to 20.9%, from 19.4%
  • Continued debt reduction: Net debt down to £184.6m at period end (2013: £302.0m), reflecting refinancing

It was a year of transformation – and success – for Johnston Press, with refinancing completed and a renewed sense of optimism in the Company,

Johnston Press was hailed as one of the “most intriguing turnaround stories in the UK market” and the transition to digital continued apace with audiences across its news print and web products reaching 27.3 million.

“2014 will certainly be a year to remember – events across the country put our brands firmly in the spotlight,” said the company in a statement.

“Our news and commercial teams rose to the challenge of delivering world-class content throughout the year. From the Scottish Independence Referendum to the Commonwealth Games to Le Grand Depart of the Tour de France, our teams stepped up and gave master classes in delivering excellence across our news sites, Twitter, Facebook and, of course, in print.”

Local campaign successes – including that of The Yorkshire Post’s award-winning ‘Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic’ cemented JP titles at the heart of their communities.

“And, as ever, our teams led the way with breaking news and in-depth analysis.

“And in this most poignant of years we were proud to embark on a unique partnership with the Royal British Legion to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One and support British veterans.”