Northcliffe takes job cut target to 1,000 as revenue falls

The Daily Mail and General Trust has said it will cut 1,000 jobs this year at regional newspaper division Northcliffe – double the number originally expected.

In a trading update ahead of a presentation to City analysts by Lord Rothermere this afternoon, DMGT said advertising revenues at Northcliffe were down about 37 per cent year on year in the first three months of 2009.

“As a result of the tough revenue picture, further substantial cost reductions are being made,” the company said.

“We now expect a net total of about 1,000 people to leave Northcliffe this year, double the level envisaged at the time of our results in November 2008.”

Further cost cuts are also being planned at nationals division Associated Newspapers, where advertising revenues in the same period were down 24 per cent.

DMGT finance director Peter Williams said most of the 1,000 jobs had already been cut – and no one particular area had been targeted.

“We have taken more action on costs, especially I’m afraid within Northcliffe,” he told journalists in a conference call this morning.

“We do now expect our number of employees to be about 1,000 lower. The vast majority of that has already happened or is in consultation.”

Northcliffe employed 4,500 full-time staff at the beginning of this year. That figure is now expected to drop to 3,500 by Christmas – a 22 per cent reduction.

The cuts, which are expected to save about £100m, have included the closure of some print works and centralising sub-editing and accounts.

Williams said it was hard to predict what would happen to display advertising at DMGT’s newspapers, and revealed that recruitment advertising in the first quarter of 2009 was down about 55 per cent year on year.

But he said there were signs that classified advertising revenues were beginning to stabilise, and Northcliffe’s overall revenues seemed to have plateaued.

“The absolute level of revenues has been pretty flat for the last five weeks,” he said.

“That’s the first time that’s happened for quite a while. That”s encouraging – but at a lower level.”

DMGT will publish its half-year results, covering the six months to the end of March, on 21 May.

The company said it expected pre-tax profits to be broadly in line with City expectations – helped by a “resilient” performance at its B2B division, which now makes up more than two thirds of group profits.

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