Archant to close London offices and relocate nine titles

Regional newspaper group Archant has announced it is to close half of its London offices, forcing nine local newspapers to relocate.

The leased offices in East Ham, Romford and Dagenham - which house staff working for the Newham Recorder, Stratford Express, Dagenham Post, Havering Post and Romford Recorder - will close, the company said in a memo to staff yesterday.

Advertising and editorial staff will relocate to the new office in Ilford, opened in 2005, and Archant said that no jobs would be lost as a result of the move.

Offices in Swiss Cottage, Harlesden and Hornsey, which serve the Ham&High, Islington Gazette, Hornsey Journal and Willesden Times Series, will also close. A new office for these papers is yet to be found.

The Archant staff memo, seen by Press Gazette, said: "The new-look organisation will be fitter and leaner to meet the challenges facing the newspaper industry in London."

Managing director Enzo Testa said that due to different leases, the offices will not close at the same time. The first is expected in May and the north London offices will not close until a new office is leased.

"With some of the leases expiring and the recession biting hard it was a real window of opportunity for us to look at the way we do business," he told Press Gazette.

"There is no doubt that with revenues decreasing throughout the newspaper industry and with the flexibility that modern communications afford our staff, the demand on office space is declining.

"These moves will make sure we are in good shape as a business to meet the challenges."

He added: "Offices are expensive, and we don't need as many as we did. We're operating with laptops, mobiles, 3G cards. They don't need to be in the office every day."

Asked if staff on the relocating newspapers were happy with the move, Testa said: "I can't say as I wasn't at those meetings. [But] the facilities in the new office are fantastic – great communication links, great transport links, and, as you know, old newspaper offices aren't always that."

Other Archant London offices to remain open are the Bethnal Green office, serving the East London Advertiser, Hackney Gazette and The Docklands titles; the Sidcup office, serving the Bromley, Bexley and Dartford Times series; and the Gravesend office, serving the Gravesend Reporter.

Archant publishes four daily regional newspapers, including the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, and about 60 weekly titles.

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