Express to boost northern HQ

Express Newspapers looks set to continue transferring production away from London to its Broughton of?ces near Preston.

Some 40 contract staff, including sub-editors and reporters, are currently based at the site. And last week they moved to refurbished of?ces, which have the capacity for at least 40 more workers.

According to editorial director Paul Ashford, other national newspapers could soon follow suit, moving production to cheaper premises outside the capital.

The Broughton of?ces opened 12 months ago as a base for the Daily Star Sunday. Since then they have expanded to include the Daily Star subbing operation and both reporters and subs for the Sunday Express sports section.

Ashford said: “It’s proved to be a very good experiment – I think other newspapers will look at this.

You’ve got to in the present economic environment.” Only three journalists from the departments which have moved took the option to be transferred from London.

According to Ashford, many of the new journalists taken on were formerly based at national newspaper Manchester of?ces that closed in the late Eighties. He said: “A lot of the staff are old faces from Manchester when the nationals were produced there.

We also have a lot of younger staff from places like local evening papers and PA.

“It’s a happy mixture of experience and youngsters. We also have two graduate trainees from the Department of Journalism in Preston.

“Richard Desmond [owner of Express Newspapers] saw the journalistic bene?ts of opening the printing works at Broughton. Obviously, it makes papers a lot cheaper to produce than in London.”

The Broughton of?ces are also intended to provide back-up in case a disaster should close the head of?ce at Blackfriars in London. It means that, if necessary, all the national newspapers and magazines could be produced from Broughton.

Asked whether more Express Newspaper departments will move to Broughton, Ashford said: “It’s just a question of when people leave through natural wastage, the next project or section is looked at, in full consultation with the National Union of Journalists.”

Broughton Printworks was redeveloped last year at a cost of £15m. The latest stage of the refurbishment has cost £500,000 and has seen Express Newspapers journalists move into of?ces formerly used by the Farmers Guardian.

By Dominic Ponsford

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