Redundancy-hit Scottish titles made £14.3m profit

As the National Union of Journalists fights plans to axe 90 jobs at the Glasgow-based Daily Record and Sunday Mail, Press Gazette has learned that the titles returned healthy profits to parent company Trinity Mirror in the last accounts filed at Companies House.

The most recent figures for Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail Ltd for the recession-hit year of 2009 show the company had a turnover of £95.2m and recorded a gross profit of £35.4m. Operating profit was £14.3m, down from £21.7m in 2008.

The job cuts announced on Wednesday would see the total number of journalists on the titles cut from around 220 to 130 as much production work is outsourced to Press Association and much features, showbiz content and UK-wide news is taken from Trinity Mirror’s London-based national titles.

The company’s accounts reveal that the average number of editorial staff in the year up to 3 January 2010 was 234 editorial staff – down from 294 the year before – and the total number of staff was 406, down from 479 in 2008. It spent £14.9m on wages and salaries compared with £20.7m in 2008.

NUJ Scotland organiser Paul Holleran has held several meetings with management already and he said he has won some concessions, including a review of nine editorial positions earmarked for redundancy.

‘These are minor moves at the moment, but let’s see if they’re [Trinity] prepared to negotiate. Sometimes people say they’re prepared to but have no intention and won’t budge. We’re now testing the water and we saw yesterday they are prepared to negotiate. I think there will be some movement. Whether we can reach mutually satisfying position remains to be seen.”

He added: ‘This is not only protecting jobs but protecting the future of the titles. We don’t want them to become sub-editions of the Daily Mirror.”

A meeting between top NUJ officials and senior Trinity management in London has been scheduled for Monday. Further meetings are being held in Glasgow today and on Tuesday.

Holleran said the NUJ has received cross-party support since Wednesday’s announcement.

First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond yesterday described the proposed cuts as ‘extraordinary”, while Scottish Labour Iain Gray said the loss of so many jobs was a ‘terrible blow for journalism in Scotland”.

Speaking at the Scottish Parliament yesterday, he said: ‘It is a Scottish institution and plays a huge role in public life.

‘Apart from grave concerns about the impact on the quality of journalism at the papers, it must be an awful shock for staff and their families, especially at a time when the economy is in such a state.”

A Daily Record and Sunday Mail spokesperson today said: “Everybody understands the enormous pressures the newspaper industry is under and as a result we are currently working with our staff, and their representatives, to ensure the future success of our iconic Scottish newspapers.”

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