The owners of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday UK newspapers have confirmed the print version of the titles will close, leaving an online-only edition.

ESI Media said The Independent, launched in 1986, will become "the first national newspaper title to move to a digital-only future". 

The Independent on Sunday will go online only on March 20, with The Independent following on March 26.

The move comes after the UK paper's owners Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev agreed a deal to sell its cut-price sister paper i to regional publisher Johnston Press for around £24m. 

The UK Independent newspapers are part of the group owned by the Lebedev family, who have other media assets including the Evening Standard and local TV station London Live.

ESI Media said the website has seen its monthly audience grow 33.3% over the last 12 months to nearly 70 million global unique users.

It added the site is profitable and is expected to see revenue growth of 50% this year. 

The move comes at a time of increasing difficulties for the UK newspaper industry, with print advertising revenues falling and few titles having found a profitable online business model.

Evgeny Lebedev, owner of The London Independent, said: "The newspaper industry is changing, and that change is being driven by readers. They're showing us that the future is digital". 

"This decision preserves the Independent brand and allows us to continue to invest in the high quality editorial content that is attracting more and more readers to our online platforms," he added. 

ESI Media said as a result of the move it will create 25 new digital content roles, launch a new subscription mobile app and continue to invest in quality journalism.