Redundancy costs hit Johnston Press

REDUNDANCY costs totalling €4.1 million at one of Ireland’s largest media groups, Johnston Press Ireland Ltd, resulted in the group recording a pre-tax loss of €6m last year.

According to accounts just filed to the Companies’ Office by Johnston Press Ireland Ltd, the group, which owns 12 Irish regional newspapers, recorded the pre-tax loss of €6m after recording a pre-tax profit of €3.9m in 2008.

The figures for the year to January 2, 2010, last show that the group’s revenues dropped 17% from €36.9m to €30.6m.

The Scottish-owned group’s titles include the Limerick Leader, the Kilkenny People, the Donegal Democrat, the Leinster Leader, the Longford Leader and the Tallaght Echo.

Last year Johnston Press withdrew the sale of its Irish regional newspapers after failing to receive a sufficiently high bid — the group, which is heavily indebted, paid a reported €260m to acquire the Irish titles.

In September of last year the group also closed its printing operation at Kilkenny with the loss of 46 jobs for which the group incurred an exceptional cost of €1.8m.

The group’s total exceptional costs last year totalled €5.9m and the directors state before the exceptional items the group recorded a pre-tax loss of €20,000 last year.

The €6m pre-tax loss last year reduced the group’s accumulated profits to €25m.

According to the directors’ report the recession “has significantly impacted revenues. Employment, property and motors were the most significantly affected categories, due to high unemployment and low property and motor transactions.”

The directors say: “2010 is expected to be another challenging year with revenues not expected to recover during 2010”.

However, they “are satisfied with the future prospects of the company”.

Addressing the group’s ‘going concern’ status, the directors state that they “believe that the company is well placed to manage its business risks successfully despite the current uncertain economic outlook”.

They add: “The Johnston Press plc Group has recently renegotiated its financing facilities of which the company is a guarantor of.

“The group’s forecasts and projects, taking account of reasonably possible changes in trading performance, show that the group should be able to operate within the level of its current committed facilities.”

The group’s staff costs last year increased by 20% from €15.4m to €18.6m.

The group paid no dividend last year.


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