Observer Standard Newspapers enters administration

A loss-making free newspaper group in the Midlands has called in the administrators, with up to 150 jobs under threat.

The family-run Observer Standard Newspapers publishes nine titles in Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands, and has a claimed weekly readership of about 765,000.

The group has an annual turnover of about £9m a year and employs 150 staff based at its Redditch head office and nine other sites in the south Midlands.

In a statement to Press Gazette, administrator John Whitfield from Grant Thornton said no redundancies had been made yet and work was underway to find a buyer.

He said publication of this week’s newspapers will go ahead as usual.

“The company has been suffering from the decline in advertising in the region, particularly with regard to residential property advertising, and it was making losses prior to the cost-cutting measures taken by the directors before our appointment,” Whitfield said.

“No redundancies have been made to date and we are not expected to make any in the immediate future, but we will continue to keep the situation under review.”

Observer Standard Newspapers was founded in 1989 by Chris Bullivant and claims to be the 14th largest newspaper publisher in the UK.

Its titles include the Leamington Observer, Coventry Observer and the Bromsgrove Standard.

Bullivant was one of the new breed of free newspaper entrepreneurs who took on the established regional press in the Seventies.

His high point was launching Europe’s first free daily, the Birmingham Daily News. At one point he was involved in a consortium which attempted to buy the Birmingham Post & Mail.

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