Voluntary liquidation helped WPC Media expand

Wakefield Guardian publisher WPC Media went into voluntary liquidation before being acquired by Chronicle Publications, to allow the businesses to expand more effectively, according to its managing director Terry Johnson.

The Wakefield group, which publishes The Wakefield Guardian and Pont & Cas Guardian, launched with a £100,000 investment in May last year against Johnston Press‘s Wakefield Express series, and the Wakefield edition of The Yorkshire Evening Post.

An initial plan to run both companies side by side with an investment package from Chronicle Publications was scrapped after the company was advised it would be more cost effective to close WPC Media and to work together under one umbrella group.

Best way forward

Independent Chronicle Publications, which produces the Goole Times, the Selby Post and a magazine division, is now taking on seven new members of staff, four of which are journalists, and is launching a new property publication for the Yorkshire region.

Johnson told Press Gazette: ‘We took advice, and the best way forward was deemed to be the sale of the titles to Chronicle Publications, and the closure of WPC Media. It was imperative that we retained all of our staff, which we have done, and that we all move forward with one cohesive plan. It’s a lot easier that way.

‘We didn’t want to plod along for the next five years; we wanted to expand and launch some publications and get a decent-size business together.

‘The big regional companies are laying people off left, right, and centre. It’s just for profit and it’s outrageous. There’s a lot of scope for the regional press. We can’t just roll over and say the advertising is all going to the internet. It is a hard time for the regional press, but we are doing our best to make sure we stay in there.

‘We wanted to expand and we had various property guides and products that we wanted to publish but we were thwarted by Johnston Press, which cut its rates and saw us off. We are very close to completing a deal for a property publication within Yorkshire, and there will be other publications coming out, and sooner rather than later.”

Johnson said there are also plans to launch further publications, and that the company is to have a ‘huge’sales drive over the next three months.

The Wakefield Guardian and Pont & Cas Guardian has a joint circulation of between 17,000 and 18,000 aweek, compared to between 7,000 and 8,000 in the week it launched. It also gives away an additional 15,000 copies each week. Johnston Press’s Wakefield Express sells 34,205.

Johnson claims that WPC Media had begun to break even, but said that it had needed a cash injection in order to expand. He said he couldn’t comment on how much money was owed to creditors until after it has been finalised with the receivers, though he said it ‘wasn’t a great deal.’

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