Sir Ray Tindle signals possible recession turning point as all London titles move into profit

Sir Ray Tindle revealed yesterday that for the last two weeks every one of the group’s London titles made a profit for the first time in three years.

He was speaking at a celebration lunch held at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich to mark the 180th anniversary of the Greenwich Mercury, a title which claims to be London’s oldest local newspaper.

Tindle’s London newspapers include: The Greenwich, Bexley and Lewisham Mercury titles, the Post series in south London, the Enfield Gazett, the Press series in north London and the South London Press.

He said: “This company’s coat of arms, which is on every copy printed, says ‘Noli Cedere’ – ‘Never Surrender’. With your help, we never have and we never will.

“However long the battle lasts Tindle Newspapers will fight for its titles and its staff.

“One swallow doesn’t make a summer but I’m pleased to tell you that, for the first time for a very long period, last week every one of our London titles went into profit.”

The lunch was also used to officially launch two new ultra-local editions of the Greenwich Mercury, covering Blackheath and Charlton. These follow the launch of a new Greenwich Town Mercury in July.

Since the start of the recession five years ago Tindle Newspapers has launched 21 mainly ultra-local newspaper titles.

Last year the South London Press launched seven new ultra-local editions. Sir Ray said these have “reversed the circulation trend and added substantially to local revenues”.

Sir Ray, who will be 87 in a few a weeks’ time, dismissed any suggestion that he should retire saying: “I’m still loving it after 65 years in this wonderful job and I would ask you to bear in mind what Professor Lord Asa Briggs in the opening paragraph of his English Social History: ‘Age is an asset, not a liability'."

Tindle Newspapers London managing director Peter Edwards noted that at its 100th anniversary the Greenwich Mercury said that it had “survived the times of trial distress that all papers encounter” adding: “The last six years must count among the most challenging times of trial and distress for any local newspapers”.

He said: “The newspaper industry has faced real threats from the economy and the arrival of new competitors. The Mercury has come through thanks to the loyalty of readers and advertisers and thanks to a staff that has done a great job under difficult circumstances.”

Tindle Newspapers acquired the Greenwich Mercury in 2007. Edwards revealed that since then Tindle  “has invested £1.5m to see us through and secure our future”.

He noted that when the Mercury was launched 180 years ago the owners boasted that they had invested in a printing press which could produce 1,000 copies an hour. He said: “At that rate today’s Mercury would take about three days to print”.

Tindle is the UK's largest family-owned independent local newspaper group with more than 200 titles.

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