Johnston Press

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Johnston Press plc
Public limited company
Traded as LSEJPR
Industry Newspapers
Founded 1767
Headquarters Edinburgh, Scotland
Key people
Ian Russell (Chairman)
Ashley Highfield (CEO)
Revenue Decrease £144 million (2013)

Johnston Press plc is a multimedia company, headquartered in Edinburgh. Its flagship titles are The Scotsman, the Yorkshire Post and the Falkirk Herald; it also operates around 250 other newspapers around the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. It is the second-largest publisher of local newspapers in the UK. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE Fledgling Index.


The Johnston family has been involved in the printing business since 1767. The brothers William and Arthur Keith Johnston founded W. & A. K. Johnston Limited in 1826.[1][2] It bought control of its first newspaper, the Falkirk Herald, in 1846. The company would remain headquartered in Falkirk for the next 150 years. The family publishing company was renamed F Johnston & Co Ltd in 1882, a title it would retain until it was floated on the London Stock Exchange as Johnston Press in 1988.[3] The company's first major acquisition came in 1970, when it took control of the Fife-based publishers Strachan & Livingston.[3] In 1978 it bought Wilfred Edmunds Ltd in Chesterfield, publisher of the Derbyshire Times and The Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group in Wakefield.[3]

The Company bought The West Sussex County Times in 1988, The Halifax Evening Courier in 1994 and the newspaper interests of EMAP plc in 1996.[3] Further expansion followed with Portsmouth & Sunderland Newspapers in 1999 and Regional Independent Media Holdings in 2002.[3]

The Company expanded into the Irish market in 2005 by purchasing Local Press Ltd, a company owned by 3i (£65 million),[4] the newspaper assets of Scottish Radio Holdings, known as Score Press with forty-five titles in Scotland and Ireland (£155 million),[5] and the Leinster Leader Group (€138.6 million).[6] The titles were then reorganised into three main holding companies: Derry Journal Newspapers (Counties Donegal and Londonderry), Johnston Publishing (NI) (everywhere else in Northern Ireland) and Johnston Press Ireland (along with four smaller companies everywhere else in the Republic).

The Company acquired The Scotsman Publications in 2006.[7]

On 7 July 2011, NUJ-represented staff at three Johnston Press titles voted more than 90% in favour of taking strike action.[8] The titles involved were the Doncaster Free Press, the South Yorkshire Times, the Goole Courier and the Selby Times. The dispute stemmed from Johnston Press' announcement in June 2011 of plans to cut 18 jobs including two editors.[9] Following the ballot and the failure to reach a settlement with Johnston Press staff walked out on indefinite strike on 15 July 2011.[10] Despite the strike continuing for several weeks, Johnston Press' Chief Executive John Fry refused the NUJ's request for mediation through Acas.[11] Johnston Press went on to service notice of redundancy upon the South Yorkshire Times editor Jim Oldfield on 8 August 2011. Graeme Huston, of the Doncaster Free Press took over management of the paper, becoming its editor-in-chief.[12] The strike continued until 6 September.[13]

Ashley Highfield was appointed as CEO in 2011. His strategic vision for the future of the business involved transformational change, implementing a number of strategic initiatives focussed on improving efficiencies and saving costs. These included reducing the number of contact centres from 14 to 2, consolidating the printing sites from seven to three, taking out layers of senior management and reducing the overall numbers of staff.[citation needed]

Highfield admitted that whilst some of the cost-saving measures - including a company-wide voluntary redundancy programme - were, at times 'brutal', it meant the debt was reduced from £371.7m to £306m by the end of 2013 and the business was streamlined for greater efficiency.[citation needed]

In December 2013 it was announced that Johnston Press had reached an agreement with their lenders as they worked towards reducing the debt. The lenders agreed a revised set of financial targets (referred to as covenants) which run to September 2015.

The company's transformation is spearheaded by a digital strategy which has seen its 200 websites relaunch, accelerated growth of its digital verticals portfolio and the launch of new ones including Digital Kitbag, which is a one-stop digital marketing solution for SMEs.

Iconic Newspapers acquired Johnston Press' titles in the Republic of Ireland in 2014.[14]


British newspapers

The following is a partial list of British newspapers owned by the company:

Irish newspapers

In total, 22 titles are published in Northern Ireland:


The company owns the following websites, in addition to newspaper sites as above, and regionalised versions of these:


  1.  Rigg, James McMullen (1892). "Johnston, William (1802-1888)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 30. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 70–71.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2.  Rigg, James McMullen (1892). "Johnston, Alexander Keith (1804-1871)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 30. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 55.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "History of Johnston Press". Johnston Press plc. Retrieved 10 August 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Newspaper Society Database of Mergers[dead link] (login required)
  5. West, Karl (22 June 2005). "Johnston Press picks up SRH local newspaper division". The Herald (Glasgow). Retrieved 11 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Press Release on Purchase of Leinster Leader Group[dead link]
  7. Tryhorn, Chris (19 December 2005). "Johnston Press buys Scotsman". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Massive vote for action at South Yorkshire Newspapers". NUJ. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Major job cuts announced at Johnston Press titles - Journalism News from". HoldtheFrontPage. Retrieved 9 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "BBC News - Journalists on indefinite strike over newspaper job cuts". 19 July 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Johnston Press chief says no to ACAS mediating strike | Media news". 4 August 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Outspoken editor receives notice of redundancy". HoldtheFrontPage. Retrieved 9 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Johnston Press journalists back to work". BBC. 7 September 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Johnston Press sells its 14 titles in the Republic". Irish Times. Retrieved 22 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  15. Our Business: Johnston (Falkirk) Ltd[dead link], Johnston Press plc

External links

Template:Irish Newspapers owned by Johnston Press