Richard Desmond: Investment in Luton proves commitment to print

Richard Desmond has denied rumours he plans to sell his Express Newspapers group but appeared to confirm reports he could offload the US version of OK! Magazine.

Desmond claimed Northern & Shell’s investment in Luton, where it is building a new printing press and relocating staff, demonstrated commitment to its print titles, which also include the Daily and Sunday Star.

‘When you go and see Luton, all this shit about me selling the papers… Just go to Luton,’he told Media Week. ‘I can tell you now, we are categorically not looking to sell the papers.”

Since Desmond hired Barclays Capital to examine the case for selling his print business, rumours have circulated around several of his print and magazine titles.

But he told Media Week that it was the company’s ability to cross-promote across TV, print and online that was attracting advertisers and contributed to its strong performance in 2010.

The company’s latest accounts revealed it that its pre-tax profits trippled last year to £30.3m in 2010 on turnover of £524.8m, which was up £103.3m on the previous 2009.

Asked why OK! would not be printed at the new presses in Luton when they open later this year, Desmond replied: “We can’t do OK! because of the size up there. But we’re looking to take on more magazines.”

The Media Week report claimed Desmond was ‘looking to drop his commitment to the expensive US edition of OK! Magazine”, but was ‘more likely to land a publishing partner to form a joint venture than secure an outright sale of OK! in the US”.

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