Inverness-based local newspaper publisher Scottish Provincial Press (SPP) has plunged into the red during what its managing director described as a “very challenging year.”
The company, which publishes 16 titles including the 200-year old Inverness Courier and the Northern Scot weekly, in Moray, made pre-tax losses of almost £1.8 million in the 12 months to the end of September 2017, compared to the previous year’s profits of £421,000.
Turnover at the firm, which employs about 200 people, also plunged by more than £1.5 million to around £10 million over the same period, according to annual accounts, released by Companies House yesterday.
In her foreword to the accounts, SPP managing director, Thelma Henderson, said: “In keeping with the newspaper industry in general, and local newspapers in particular, 2016/17 was a very challenging year for Scottish Provincial Press Ltd, resulting in a decline in turnover of 14% and gross margins from 38.9% to 36.7%.”
She added: “The company has a clear ongoing strategy in place to restructure operations which, once complete, will leave it well placed to continue providing quality newspapers across the Highlands.”
SPP did not respond to a request for a comment on its results yesterday.
SPP headquarters on market and employee numbers dropping
With flagship titles in Inverness and Moray, privately owned SPP also publishes weekly newspapers and associated websites in Ross-shire, Caithness, Sutherland, Moray, Strathspey and Badenoch and Aberdeenshire.
Its New Century House headquarters, in the Highland capital, are currently on the market, and last year the firm embarked on a programme of office closures and staff redundancies.
Its 16 titles, which include the Highland News, The John O’Groats Journal, The Banffshire Journal and the Huntly Express, are now run from three newspaper centres, in Inverness, Elgin and Wick.
The annual accounts released yesterday show the monthly average employees at SPP dropped to 195 in the year to the end of last September from 218 in the previous 12 months. The editorial workforce reduced from 77 to 68 over the period.
SPP is a subsidiary of Peter Press, which has a registered office in Southampton and is owned by Peter Fowler.
Annual results for that company, also released by Companies House yesterday, showed pre-tax losses increased from £199,000 in 2015/16 to £2.2 million last year. Its turnover fell from £11.6 million to £10 million over the same period.