JOHNSTON Press has said it has been making £1 million a month underlying profits from the i newspaper it bought last year for £24m after investing in growing sales and efficiency.

The group, whose titles include The Scotsman, said strategic changes made to the i have helped the firm exceed the objectives set when it bought the paper in April last year from Evgeny Lebedev.

The company gave an update on progress at the title yesterday, weeks after it faced an attempt by an activist investor to overthrow its board and have former First Minister Alex Salmond appointed chairman.

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Christen Ager-Hanssen, who owns 20 per cent of Johnston Press’s shares via his investment firm Custos Group, submitted a requisition last month calling on the company to hold a general meeting to consider his proposals for a boardroom shake up. The company said the requisition notice was invalid.

It has not received another requisition notice on behalf of Custos since. The investment firm submitted the first one soon after Mr Ager-Hanssen claimed Johnston Press was “ totally mismanaged”.

Led by chief executive Ashley Highfield, Johnston Press said yesterday it continues to make good progress with its strategic initiatives.

While trading conditions remain very challenging, the board remains confident full year trading will be in line with its expectations, noted the group.

It said the i’s success was based on a clear and successful strategy, which involved “investing in improved content … increased brand awareness, distribution, and advertiser solutions, while delivering efficiencies”.

A significant investment in the editorial team has brought the head count up to sixty-six.

The Saturday offering has been attracting 12,000 additional readers weekly since being relaunched in September.

“Since acquisition, the Monday to Friday cover price has risen from 40p to 60p, with iweekend now at 80p .... Circulation has remained steady at 266,000,” said the group.

Johnston Press noted the benefit of contract renegotiation and reductions to inherited costs.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation averaged £1m monthly from September to November. The i achieved £5.2m EBITDA for the year ended 27 September 2015.

Circulation was 269,000 in February 2016. Twenty five staff members transferred to Johnston Press after it bought the paper.