Johnston Press merges Irish publishing divisions

Johnston Press has merged of its Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland publishing divisions.

The new division brings the publisher’s 25 titles in Northern Ireland – including the News Letter, the Derry Journal – together with the 17 it controls in the Republic, including the Kilkenny People and the Limerick Leader.

As part of the reorganisation, Jean Long, managing director for Northern Ireland and Donegal, has been appointed as managing director for Johnston Press’ 42 titles in Ireland.

Barrai McConville, divisional finance director for Northern Ireland, will also assume an all-Ireland role.

Long said: ‘I am very pleased to take on this new role within Johnston Press and to work to consolidate our position as a major media player on both sides of the border, with a reach to hundreds of thousands of people.

‘We have within our portfolio many prestigious titles, which enjoy a unique relationship with the communities they serve, as well as a growing digital presence.

‘These are challenging times for the industry as a whole, but I feel that there are also exciting opportunities and I look forward to continuing to deliver a top quality service to our readers and advertisers.”

In May last year, Johnston Press was forced to abandon the planned sale of its titles in the Republic of Ireland after the board of the company was unable to secure a sufficiently high price.

Failure to sell the titles left Johnston Press at risk of breaching its banking covenants and led the business into talks with lenders over refinancing its debt. Johnston Press later agreed a three-year £485m financing deal.

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