Trinity Mirror job cuts total swells to 1,100

Graf: plans to step up investment this year

Trinity Mirror is shedding even more jobs than the 800 it originally planned. Nine per cent of the workforce, 1,100 staff on its titles, will have gone by next year, group chief executive Philip Graf revealed during a presentation of the company’s results to the end of 2001.

The extra 300 went last year, principally from the company’s digital media division, vastly scaled down as a response to the economic downturn.

About 500 of the job losses are at the regional newspapers and the remainder across the rest of the group.

Trinity Mirror communications director Nick Fullagar said a large majority of the losses would be achieved by non-replacement of staff when vacancies arise – the Sunday People’s recent reduction of 12 staff was made almost entirely by non-replacement.

Advertising revenue was still falling in the first three months of 2002 by a predicted 13 per cent on the national titles and by 3 per cent on the regionals, and chairman Victor Blank said Trinity Mirror directors believed it was prudent to plan on this remaining at such a level throughout most of the year.

The company nevertheless managed to increased profits by 0.9 per cent profit last year to £155.5m from £154.1m in 2000. But after exceptional items were extracted, it made a loss of £11.3m.

In its review of operations in a "very tough trading period", the company said its successful cost-cutting strategy for regional newspapers was well under way; the Scottish national titles had a new marketing strategy to hold sales and The Mirror and Sunday Mirror had been revitalised.

The Sunday People remained "an important profit contributor to the group."

Now Trinity Mirror plans to step up investment putting £25m more than it spent in 2001 into marketing, editorial and other products in 2002. Between 2001 and 2004, £90m is being spent on four new press facilities, £60m of which will go, as Press Gazette reported last week, on a new press site for the Midlands at Fort Dunlop in Birmingham, to be operational by the end of 2004.

The new Fort Dunlop presses will replace existing press halls in Birmingham and Coventry, printing the Birmingham Evening Mail, Coventry Evening Telegraph, Birmingham Post, Sunday Mercury, plus over 30 weekly newspapers in the Midlands. The company employs more than 2,000 people in the Midlands.

A further £12m is to implement new Trinity Mirror strategies. Neither Blank nor Graf would give details of plans to "rebrand" the national titles for competitive reasons.

They reportedly entail changing the red-top masthead of the Mirrors to take the papers more mid-market.

Joe Sinyor, chief executive of the national titles, said the regional and national titles were looking to share editorial content wherever possible, instancing the World Cup when the group’s best sports reporters would go to Japan and Korea and their copy used across the company’s titles.

Trinity Mirror and the Telegraph Group are discussing forming a joint advertising sales house, Apollo Sales, for their national titles. The Daily Telegraph has already done a similar deal, on a smaller scale, with The Business.

 

By Jean Morgan

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