95 jobs at risk as Northcliffe merges South East subbing

Northcliffe is centralising sub-editing in its South East region, cutting up to 95 jobs and closing a number of newspapers.

The company – the regional arm of the Daily Mail and General Trust – said it needed to “reduce costs in the current challenging trading environment”.

Its South East titles include the East Kent Gazette and Medway’s The News. The group has offices across Essex, Surrey and Kent.

As well as threatening 95 jobs, the centralisation could create 20 jobs. A Northcliffe statement said: “We are making every effort to avoid unnecessary job losses, by offering those affected the opportunity to relocate to new roles.

“This will reduce the overall net impact of this consultation period, which is our main aim.”

Free titles to close include Total Essex, and Focus in West Kent. Other titles will merge to create what Northcliffe calls “hybrid paid/free titles”.

The company previously merged paid-for and free titles in East Grinstead, to create the East Grinstead Courier and Observer. A spokesman said results there had been “encouraging despite current market conditions”.

The company’s statement added: “In line with similar announcements made recently by Northcliffe in the North East and Midlands regions, the intention is to create a central editorial design and production hub based in Chelmsford.

“The region will focus on market leading titles and those areas where medium term opportunities are visible.

“A number of free newspapers will be closed including Total Essex and Focus in West Kent. Free titles in Maidstone and Ashford are also under review.”

Last month, when Northcliffe announced plans to centralise subbing in its North East and Midlands region, it said 50 jobs were at risk.

It also recently announced centralisation in Staffordshire, with 24 jobs at risk.

Last year, Northcliffe saw its profit fall by £25m to £68m. Property advertising revenue fell 22 per cent, motors advertising fell 12 per cent, and recruitment advertising fell 11 per cent.

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