Archant has furloughed staff on its regional magazines across the country for the next month to help ease the impact of the latest lockdown on its finances.
The cost-saving measures at the local media group, now owned by private equity firm Rcapital, will mean publication of the March and April issues of all Archant’s monthly magazines will be slightly delayed, staff were told.
Editorial, production, design, planning, sales and support staff on the magazines have all been “directly furloughed for a significant portion” of the period between Wednesday 27 January and Wednesday 24 February.
An email sent to all Archant staff, seen by Press Gazette, told them that continued use of the Government’s Covid-19 job retention scheme would ease the impact of the lockdown and help make keep the company sustainable.
It said staff could look to “more positive times” in the spring.
Archant publishes about 20 regionally-focused magazines under Life branding – for example Cotswold Life and Yorkshire Life.
It also publishes a number of luxury lifestyle Resident magazines, such as London Resident and East Devon Resident, and specialist interest titles including Clay Shooter and Agricultural Trader.
Archant previously furloughed a “small number” of staff whose work had “disappeared” or been “radically reduced” in the first lockdown in spring 2020 and later put editorial staff at its newspapers on the scheme for one day a week each during the November lockdown.
Some sales staff were initially furloughed at the start of November but were called back into work when demand remained higher than expected.
The Government pays furloughed workers 80% of their wages through the job retention scheme, which was extended until 30 April. Archant has been topping up the wages of lower-paid furloughed staff so they don’t miss out.
Earlier this month Archant appointed “business transformation” specialist Nick Alexander as interim chief executive with immediate effect to steer the publisher out of the pandemic under new owners Rcapital, with whom he has worked on several projects before.
Privaty equity firm Rcapital bought out Archant in August last year after the company suffered a “profound” impact to advertising and circulation revenues due to Covid-19, a situation worsened by a significant shortfall within its legacy defined benefit pension scheme.
Under the Company Voluntary Arrangement (a move which staves off bankruptcy by reaching deal with creditors) Archant shareholders were wiped out and the UK government took over the company’s pension scheme.
Archant is the UK’s fourth largest local news publisher.