Johnston to close five offices in the North East

Johnston Press is closing five newspaper offices in the North East – including those of the Hartlepool Mail and Shields Gazette – with the loss of six jobs.

Offices at South Shields, Hartlepool, Berwick, Kelso and Selkirk are set to close and editorial and advertising staff relocated to the head office in Sunderland, home to the Sunderland Echo.

Johnston said that six jobs are likely to go in editorial and nine in advertising.

The announcement was made following a ‘a detailed review of office accommodation in the North East’and the ‘requirement to ensure that the business needs continue to be met”, staff were told yesterday.

Johnston said it would continue to have a presence in the region in South Shields, Hartlepool, Berwick and Selkirk with the creation of ‘smaller customer-facing offices with hot-desk facilities”.

On Wednesday the company reported a pre-tax loss of £143.8m for the 2011 financial year as it wrote down the value of its publishing assets. On an underlying basis, operating profit fell 10.3 per cent to £64.6m on turnover down 6.1 per cent to £373.8m.

It told investors this week it predicted that by 2020 all of its titles will lead with ‘digital first’and that ‘few daily print products’would remain.

Johnston also revealed plans for price rise increases ranging from 5p-25p but insisted there ‘no direct correlation between weekly newspaper circulation and cover price changes”

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