A Welsh weekly newspaper has been saved from closure with an “eleventh-hour” investment, saving ten out of 24 jobs thought lost.
Staff at the Pembrokeshire Herald, Camarthenshire Herald and Llanelli Herald were told on Friday last week that they were at risk of redundancy as publisher Herald News UK was no longer commercially viable.
The group was unable to pay its costs after a major investment fell through, with bosses expecting the company to be put into administration this week.
But he Pembrokeshire Herald has been saved in print and online, while the websites of its two smaller sister titles will also continue – cutting the total number of print closures down from three to two.
The rescue came thanks to a last-minute investment from a businessman who decided the titles deserved to be saved.
At least ten of the 24 staff will now keep their jobs following the six-figure cash-for-shares agreement with Spanish advertising firm Rigographic Espana.
The firm’s chief executive, Ricardo Rigobon, said: “As a campaigning newspaper, The Pembrokeshire Herald has served its customers well over the last six and a half years.
“Its circulation is strong, and the website is extremely popular.
“I believe with the new reduced costs business model we can secure the future of the newspaper.”
Group managing director John Hammond had said last week that the Herald titles had faced a “substantial increase” in wage, printing and transport costs alongside the typical circulation decline.
The Pembrokeshire Herald is edited by Thomas Sinclair, who has previously been fined over a story identifying a youth in a court report and another which contained information judged likely to identify a sex offence victim.
Announcing the new partnership earlier this week, Sinclair said: “I am excited that we have been given a new opportunity.
“It’s not a time for celebration as we still have colleagues who have lost their jobs. However, for the remaining team we now have a get on with the job of reporting the news and getting the papers out each Friday.”
The Pembrokeshire Herald launched in 2013, with its sister titles following almost two years later.
In 2017 the paper said it had a total circulation of about 13,500 – 6,500 paid-for (unaudited figures) boosted by 7,000 free distributed copies launched in response to advertising rates being cut at rival newspapers.
Sinclair claimed at the time this gave the Herald the largest weekly circulation in the region.
In 2018, Newsquest-owned Western Telegraph had an average weekly circulation of 9,475 according to ABC figures, while Reach’s Wales on Sunday was on 8,279.