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Johnston Press

Johnston Press is Britain’s second largest publisher of newspapers, and the largest publisher that doesn’t have a UK-wide national newspaper in its portfolio – indeed, it’s the only such publisher listed on the London Stock Exchange. It also arguably has the widest geographical spread of all the publishers, with subsidiaries covering most of Great Britain from the North East of Scotland to southern England (but omitting Wales, the West Country, the West Midlands and London) and Northern Ireland, making it the only regional publisher to cover both sides of the Irish Sea.

History

JP’s rise began slowly. It began in 1767 as a Falkirk-based printing company and didn’t become a publishing house until nearly 80 years later, when it acquired the Falkirk Herald in 1846. It wasn’t until 1970, with the acquisition of Fife-based Strachan & Livingston, that it expanded significantly beyond the Falkirkshire area.

In 1978, however, it ventured south of the Border, buying Wilfred Edmunds Ltd (publishers of the Derbyshire Times) and the Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group (publishers of the Wakefield Express). 1988 saw it expand into southern England with the purchase of West Sussex County Times Ltd (now part of Sussex Newspapers). It was given a full listing on the LSE the same year, changing its name from F Johnston & Co. Ltd. to Johnston Press plc in the process.

Further noteworthy expansions since then have included Halifax Courier Ltd in 1994, JP’s first acquisition of a daily newspaper; EMAP’s newspapers spanning much of northern East Anglia and the eastern East Midlands in 1996; Portsmouth & Sunderland Newspapers in 1999; Local Press Ltd (45 titles in Scotland and across the island of Ireland) in 2005; and The Scotsman Publications in 2006.

Recent developments

As with the rest of the industry, JP has been hit by the general economic downturn globally and by the diversion of advertising revenue from the print media to the Web. In March 2013 it reported that it had cut nearly a quarter of its workforce in 2012 – although it was also able to point to a 9% reduction in its net debt and an operating profit of just over £40 million, having made an operating loss of nearly £110m in 2011.

Its decision in June 2011 to cut 18 jobs at South Yorkshire Newspapers led to a strike by NUJ staff employed by SYN. The editor of the South Yorkshire Times, Jim Oldfield, took the bold step of reporting the strike on his newspaper’s pages, but was himself declared redundant in August after four weeks of the strike. The industrial action was eventually called off after eight weeks after SYN agreed to negotiate. Oldfield went on to be involved with an online-only publication, the Postcode Gazette.

It rolled out mobile versions of all its websites in December 2011.

In April 2012 it announced that five of its daily titles would be switching to weekly publication with an increased page count, reflecting JP’s intention to shift to more “platform-neutral” publication, with day-to-day updates of its websites and increased use of iPad apps. The five titles slated for the change were the Halifax Evening Courier, the Scarborough Evening News, the Peterborough Evening Telegraph, the Northants Evening Telegraph and the Northampton Chronicle & Echo.

Ownership

As of 2011 the largest shareholder was Malaysian billionaire Ananda Krishnan’s investment company, PanOcean Management, with a 20 per cent stake in JP, followed by Orbis Holdings (10.7 per cent) and Jupiter Asset Management (4.6 per cent). Rival publisher Tindle Newspapers increased its holding in November 2011 to 4.36 per cent; subsequent purchases to May 2012 took it to 8 per cent, making it the third-largest shareholder.

Divisions

Scotland

  • Angus County Press
  • Galloway Gazette Ltd
  • Johnston (Falkirk)
  • The Scotsman Publications
  • Stornoway Gazette Ltd
  • Strachan & Livingston
  • Tweeddale Press

Northern Ireland

  • Derry Journal
  • Morton Newspapers

England: North East

  • Northeast Press

England: North West

  • Blackpool Gazette & Herald Ltd
  • East Lancashire Newspapers
  • Lancashire Evening Post Ltd
  • Lancashire Publications
  • Lancaster & Morecambe Newspapers

England: Yorkshire

  • Ackrill Media Group
  • Halifax Courier Ltd
  • Sheffield Newspapers
  • South Yorkshire Newspapers
  • Yorkshire Post Newspapers
  • Yorkshire Regional Newspapers
  • Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group

England: East Midlands

  • East Midlands Newspapers
  • Northamptonshire Newspapers
  • North Notts Newspapers
  • Wilfred Edmunds (Derbyshire Times) Ltd

England: East of England

  • Anglia Newspapers
  • Premier Newspapers

England: South East

  • Portsmouth Publishing & Printing
  • Sussex Newspapers

Johnston Press’s newspapers listed alphabetically

  • Address:
  • Johnston Press plc
    108 Holyrood Road
    EDINBURGH
    EH8 8AS
  • Tel:
  • 0131 225 3361
  • Fax:
  • 0131 225 4580
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