Sir Ray Tindle makes 'finest hour' speech to staff

Regional press boss Sir Ray Tindle invoked the spirit of Winston Churchill today when he convened a group-wide meeting of managers to discuss the crisis currently facing the regional press.

Tindle Newspapers group managing director Brian Doel warned executives that the current downturn was the worst crisis for the newspaper industry since World War Two.

And chairman Sir Ray, himself a World War Two veteran, invoked Churchill’s famous “fight them on the beaches” speech from 1940 – when Britain stood alone against a Germany under Hitler which had occupied most of Europe.

He told staff: “This is now your finest hour. I know you can do it. You have already shown us that.”

Tindle is one of the 10 biggest regional newspaper groups in the UK.

It revealed today that almost its entire general management team had met in Bristol to discuss the crisis.

Executive director Wendy Craig told those present that the Tindle group’s strength was in its “strictly local approach”.

And she encouraged local managers to continue building on the relationship their papers have with their communities.

Sir Ray concluded the conference by thanking all those present for “bringing their newspapers and staff safely through the 2008 crisis”, and told them the local newspaper industry would “survive and flourish once again”.

He also pointed out that Tindle Newspapers had never borrowed money – and it had cash reserves to help see it through the looming recession.

Tindle Newspapers owns about 230 titles across England and Wales.

Sir Ray began his newspaper group with the £300 demob money given to soldiers at the end of the Second World War and he started with a weekly paper in Tooting, south London, with a circulation of 700.

Through launches and acquisitions the group has grown to its current total weekly circulation of more than 1.4 million.

In 2007, Tindle made its biggest purchase – paying Trinity Mirror £18.75m for 27 weekly newspapers, including the South London Press, Yellow Advertiser series, Streatham Post, Mitcham Post, Bexley Mercury, Barnet Press, Enfield Advertiser and Enfield Gazette.

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