The managing director of Northcliffe Media, Michael Pelosi, has said the company has no plans to cut editorial jobs or resources, but instead will invest in the digital operations of the 25 titles it is buying from Trinity Mirror in the South East of England.
Pelosi stressed that any efficiency drives would not affect editorial staff, but could affect “back-of-house” jobs such as HR and administration.
He told Press Gazette: “The board of DMGT (Daily Mail and General Trust, Northcliffe’s parent company) have affirmed their decision to keep Northcliffe by investing further in regional assets, so my reaction is one of delight that we have been able to acquire the [Trinity Mirror titles].”
Talking of the titles, which in 2006 generated £7.3m profit, he added: “The first thing we are going to do is invest in these businesses.
“We need to introduce our modern IT systems and we want to grow the digital side [of their journalism].”
When asked whether new editorial IT systems could result in redundancies, a situation facing staff at Newsquest’s Glasgow titles later this year, Pelosi said he had “no thoughts in that direction”.
He said: “It does not appear to me in terms of sales or editorial staff that it has excess resources.”
In 2005, DMGT announced it planned to sell off its entire regional newspaper division, but the sale was abandoned in February 2006 when it was unable to reach an estimated asking price of £1.5 billion. The company instead continued its cost-saving programme Aim Higher which aimed to save £45 million by 2007.
Trinity has been through its own cost-cutting programme and media analyst for Bridgewell Securities Andrew Walsh said there would unlikely be room to cut back much further.
He said: “They [Northcliffe] are presumably interested because some of the titles are contiguous and they think they can extract efficiency gains from them.
“That normally means reducing the cost base, but it need not be in the form of job losses.”
At the start of the year, Bridgewell estimated that the whole Trinity package would fetch £560 million.
The sale of the Trinity titles – which include the Croydon Advertiser, East Grinstead Observer and the Folkestone Herald – is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
Trinity Mirror is also in the process of selling regional titles in the Midlands, including the Birmingham Mail, and other local newspapers in London as well as the Racing Post.