The National Union of Journalists has condemned Express Newspapers chairman Richard Desmond after his company, Northern and Shell, announced an operating profit of £37m in 2013.
Despite the improved performance, up from an operating loss of £5.6m in 2012, Express Newspapers – publisher of the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star titles – is in the process of cutting its editorial staff from 650 to 450.
In response, the NUJ has accused Desmond of “wilfully running his newspapers to the ground” and called for him to “sell the titles to someone who actually cares about newspapers and quality journalism”.
The Northern and Shell financial results reveal Channel 5 was sold to Viacom for £463.3m this year and that in 2013 the station made a record £359.7m revenue. The results showed Channel 5 made an operating profit of £32.6m, up from a loss of £16.6m in 2012.
Operating profits on the printing and publishing side of the business increased from £23.8m in 2012 to £33.8m in 2013.
Between them, Northern and Shell's five directors – named as Desmond, Stan Myerson, Martin Ellice, Robert Sanderson and Paul Ashford – recieved £1.96m in renumeration for 2013. The highest paid director, who is not named, earned £605,000.
The total salary bill, for 1,190 employees (down from 1,242 in 2012), was £78.7m.
The NUJ said staff morale was at "rock bottom", citing "workload pressure", "stress following cuts to journalist numbers" and "poor conditions, with mice rampant at the London office".
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said: "Desmond has made a huge amount from the sale of Channel 5, but has no plans to re-invest this windfall in the newspapers he runs. Instead, he is wilfully running them down, by cutting staff to unacceptable levels and leaving those who remain with huge workloads. Why should journalists lose their jobs so he can prop up his failing Health Lottery?
"The NUJ believes the papers deserve a proprietor who values them and secures their future using the ideas and skills of the people who work on them, both in print and digital.
"Now the company is in profit, perhaps it is time for him to sell the titles to someone who actually cares about newspapers and quality journalism.
"In the meantime, there should be a moratorium on these cuts and meaningful negotiation over a strategic plan for the future of the titles, including a proper pay rise for staff.”
According to The Guardian, the 200 job cuts across Express Newspapers could save as much as £14m.