Johnston Press opens group-wide redundancy programme

Regional newspaper group Johnston Press has opened up a group-wide voluntary redundancy programme.

Staff have until 25 October to apply for redundancy under 'enhanced terms', the exact details of which have not been revealed.

The move comes after Johnston announced operating profit up 4 per cent year on year on a like-for-like basis to £28.6m for the first half of this year. But revenue was down almost 10 per cent to £144.2m for same period and the group remains £306.4m in debt.

Chief executive Ashley Highfield said in a statement to staff: “We announced a set of healthier results to the city in August which included a return to operating profit growth, strong digital revenues and increases in overall audience.

“To ensure we are in a solid position for continued growth we need to be constantly reviewing our business structure and rescaling where appropriate. We have already taken many prudent measures to ensure we hit our financial targets and we will continue to explore different options for our employees to consider.

“With that in mind we are today announcing an Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy Programme.”

Most staff can apply for redundancy, but those involved in digital and in jobs which generate ad revenue are exempt from the scheme.

Johnston also invited applications from those which wish to work reduced hours or take a career break.

Johnston Press has slashed staff numbers in recent years and employed 4,350 people at the end of 2012 (a 23.1 per cent drop year on year). In 2006 it employed 7,849 people.

UPDATE: 

The National Union of Journalists has warned the latest proposed cuts will dramatically impact the working conditions of journalists remaining at the organisation. 

Deputy General Secretary Barry Fitzpatrick claimed: "Already there are serious issues over workload and the pace at which digital change is being imposed. Revenue migration to digital remains disappointing and seems to be driven by a mistaken belief that it will come right in the end.

"The root cause of this crisis is the scale of the group's indebtedness and the draconian terms under which the banks including RBS have structured the loans.

"Given the responsibility that the banks have for the loans it is time that the terms were reviewed so that instead of strangling the company the money can be used to restore the trading performance and allow for real growth."

 

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