THE chief executive of Johnston Press has been awarded a bonus of nearly £250,000, writes Scott Wright.

One-third of the bonus awarded to Ashleigh Highfield has been deferred for three years, with the newspaper publisher citing its “current lack of distributable reserves”.

And the remaining two-thirds will be deferred until the remuneration committee is “satisfied that a sound financial basis for the company had been achieved”.

Johnston Press publishes titles such as The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post. According to its annual report for 2017, Mr Highfield received a total pay package of £808,000 for 2017. That incldued a basic salary of £430,000 and pension contributions worth £115,000 – both of which were in line with his pay in 2016. He did not receive a bonus in 2016. The remuneration rise came in year which saw Johnston Press see a pick-up in regional print advertising and annual losses fall. The Edinburgh-based group lost £95 million before tax in 2017, compared with £300.7m in the preceding period.

Mr Highfield said at the time: “Whilst operationally the business is performing well in challenging markets, addressing the group’s capital structure remains a key priority.” Johnston Press had £195.9m adjusted net debt at the year-end, compared with £204.5m at the end of the preceding period.