Editorial team slashed at North West Enquirer

The weekly North West Enquirer launched in April is making senior editorial redundancies in order to save £250,000 demanded by investors.

Deputy editor Paul Blebta and news editor David Anderson were made redundant last week, and the company is looking to lay off a sub-editor and possibly a reporter. There are currently 15 editorial members of staff — almost twice the amount of sales staff. No further redundancies are being considered at present and extra sales staff are going to be recruited.

Freelance contributions have been cut back and three monthly supplements on lifestyle, women and regeneration have been dropped.

Associate editor Rachael Campey will now have an overview role on news coverage and there will be no deputy editor position. Deputy chief sub Claire Gray has been promoted to chief sub and sub Sarah Dempsey has become deputy chief sub.

According to editor Bob Waterhouse "most" of the funders are reinvesting, including himself and managing director Nick Jaspan.

The former Coventry Evening Telegraph and Birmingham Post commercial director Andrew Haddow has been appointed commercial manager, replacing head of sales Chris Candish who left the paper six weeks before the launch.

Three extra sales staff are set to join the company over the autumn.

Sales have dipped below the target of 15,000 to 20,000 copies to between 10,500 and 12,000 a week, though in May the paper was believed to be selling 16,500. Around 8,500 free copies will go out on top of these and there will be a sampling campaign of 46,000 a week.

The paper is also on sale in airports and stations and has struck up various deals for bulk sales.

Jaspan said: "We are bringing the [editorial] operation down to a more realistic size with more emphasis on sales. We knew it was going to be difficult.

A lot of ad agencies wish us well, but they are waiting and being conservative.

Our autumn bookings have been quite a bit more than they have been for June, July and August because we are beginning to be put on schedules and rotas. These things take time; it's only been 14 weeks. We are hoping for consistent profits by next autumn."

The Enquirer was launched with seven-figure backing with a remit to target the 1.3 million AB adults in the Northwest region. When it launched Waterhouse pledged above average salaries for its journalists and said the paper's success would "stand or fall on the quality of its reporting".

Waterhouse said: "It's not the easiest thing to have to do, particularly three months after launch. But at the same time, unlike The Sportsman, which has gone into administration, we are looking forward to vigorous growth come autumn. It's when the world starts to wake up again in advertising terms.

"The positive side to that is without employing new people we are reshaping our team and we still have 15 journalists on the payroll.

"The staff are in good heart. We hope the editorial quality we have created will at least be maintained."


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