Regional titles will bear the brunt
If one fact emerged from the Trinity Mirror interim results last week, it was the very good performance of its regional newspapers. But the papers, which include the Liverpool Echo, the Western Mail and Newcastle’s Evening Chronicle, appear to be in for the biggest shake-up after a "bottom-up" review of the company.
They will bear the brunt of the 800 job losses from the 12,500-strong workforce planned by 2003 (200 have already gone this year) though editors to whom Press Gazette talked remain sanguine that their staffs would not be too badly affected.
In order to make its regional newspaper business an industry leader, Trinity Mirror is to regroup the titles into regional ‘clusters’ – the North East, North West (including North Wales), the Midlands, the South and Scotland – with each cluster sharing activities and expertise. The Scottish national newspapers will have a bespoke plan, including some best-practice methods drawn from the regionals.
Trinity Mirror’s director of communications, Nick Fullagar, said the review was about seeing if the company could get more from those businesses. "They are operating with no relationship to one another," he said, indicating that the best methods from one title, benchmarked against other newspaper businesses, might now be utilised by other titles.
"We want everybody working from the same sheet but at the same time we are aware we should do nothing to interfere with the ‘localness’ of the titles," he said.
"But we have a problem on cost and we’ve got to cut it."
Fullagar said he did not yet know whether sharing between titles would be extended to features or central subbing pools because those details had not been worked out.
"What this is not is a blueprint drawn up by senior management at Canary Wharf. This is a bottom-up, nuts-and-bolts review driven by the regional management teams. They took a look at their own companies and came up with this review. This is not about slimming the company – this is about getting fit."
Trinity Mirror’s regional newspapers have slowed the rate of decline in sales, achieved a 10.9 per cent increase in revenue, from £246.6m to £273.4m, and a 0.8 per cent increase in operating profit, up to £65.3m.
Profits for the group as a whole fell 9.7 per cent to £80.9m.
By Jean Morgan