The profits of British regional newspaper group Johnston Press have been boosted by strong growth in advertising during the first six months of 2004.

Johnston, whose stable of titles includes the Yorkshire Post, reports pre-tax profits of £77.3 million ($139m; €114.8m), up by 16% compared with last year.

A surge in all categories of advertising was credited for the rise, particularly recruitment advertising, which swelled by 13.3%.

Profit gains across all divisions of the group nudged up operating margins before exceptional costs from 33.8% to 35.2%, while group sales climbed by 5% to £261.2m.

Although ceo Tim Bowdler cautioned against a slowdown in the rate of ad revenue growth "due to the stronger comparatives in the second half of 2003", he remains optimistic that 'the year as a whole' will spell good news for Johnston's progress.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff