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Johnston Press has announced a deal with second hand online car dealership Motors.co.uk

Advertising revenues are down 9.1 per cent at Johnston Press compared with the same period in 2011.

Classified advertising fell, with job ads the "weakest performing category" with a 16.2 per cent decrease while digital revenues have had "an excellent start to the year" and were up 13.9 per cent.

The regional publisher has this published its interim financial report this morning for the 18 week period to 7 May, in which it states that it expects to make "further cost savings" this year.

Meanwhile Johnston Press has announced a deal with second hand online car dealership Motors.co.uk, and will integrate the platform within each of the publishers local websites which and will carry the local website brand.

The publisher describes Motors.co.uk as "the UK's second largest car search response network". 

A release from Johnston Press states the 9.1 per cent decline in ad revenue represents "an improvement from the Q1 decline of 9.6 per cent to a slower decline of 8.0 per cent for Q2 to date".

Classified print advertising revenues fell 11.5 per cent year-on-year for the first 18 weeks of this year, with employment the weakest performing category.

The publisher described print display advertising as having "a difficult start to the year", down 10.3 per cent.  "In recent weeks we have seen some encouraging signs in this category although display revenues remain volatile, reflecting the economic environment," the statement adds.

Digital revenues have had "an excellent start to the year", up 13.9 per cent, an improvement from the first quarter. "Online display, online employment, and the Find it directory business have all been drivers of this growth," the company reports.

Circulation revenue "continued to be resilient", down 2.0 per cent, "with a slowing in the rate of decline of weekly circulation numbers".

Net debt was £363.3 million at the end of April, which includes the payment of the fees associated with the refinancing of the company's borrowings. 

When the group published its delayed report last month it wrote off £164 million from value of newspapers.
 
The statement adds: "The advertising outlook for the year remains volatile, but we anticipate that the strategy that the group has set out will provide benefits from the relaunches of all of the group's paid-for titles during the year, along with continued improvement in digital performance throughout 2012. We expect that the results for the full year will be in line with market expectations."

The new Johnston Press motor sites will launch later this year, according to a separate release. Ashley Highfield, the new chief executive of the company said in the statement: "Motors.co.uk is one of the most dynamic players in the online motors space and this partnership gives us an exciting new platform for our local websites and great reach for our motors advertisers. It forms another step in our strategy to deliver highly engaged, local website portals across all of our markets."

In March Highfield signalled a move to a "digital-first" approach.

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