Bosses at the Burton Mail in Staffordshire today confirmed plans to close the town’s printing press with the loss of around 15 jobs.
Production of a number of Iliffe-owned weekly titles including the Ashbourne News Telegraph is set to be transferred to the company’s state-of-the-art print facility in Cambridge
But they insisted that the Mail, one of Britain’s smallest daily newspapers, would continue to be printed in the Midlands.
Iliffe is currently in talks with a number of potential external print operators including Northcliffe, raising the possibility that the Mail could be printed on the presses of its historic local rival, the Derby Evening Telegraph.
David Fordham, chairman of Staffordshire Newspapers Ltd and chief executive of Iliffe News and Media, stressed that no final decisions had been taken and that a formal period of consultation was now taking place.
But he explained that the Wetmore Road, Burton plant would require significant investment to bring it up to scratch.
“The press in Burton is an elderly, refurbished single width press that has limited colour capability and comparitively slow speeds,” he told HoldtheFrontPage.
“The choices were to make a significant further investment in that plant or look at alternative ways of printing our titles”
Mr Fordham said it was proposed that number of weekly titles printed in Burton would be transferred to an expanded print facility being developed at Cambridge at a cost of around £10m.
But he added: “As far as the Burton Mail is concerned, it is not intended that title will be transferred. The likelihood is it will be outsourced and printed externally by a third party printer in the Midlands area.”
Mr Fordham said he was currently in discussions with a number of possible print operators “one of them being Northcliffe.”
The Northcliffe-owned Derby Evening Telegraph is historically a bitter rival to the Burton Mail with their South Derbyshire and East Staffordshire patches largely overlapping.
Mr Fordham also confirmed that no editorial jobs would be affected by the plans, and that the company remains committed to the Mail as a daily title.
“It is one of the smallest regional evenings but it makes a positive contribution to the business. There is absolutely no risk to that title as an evening paper,” he added.
Doug Price (20/06/2008 14:33:56)
You have to feel very sorry for the 15 local employees that will lose their jobs and the effect that this action will have on their families in what are already trying times.
The news does not seem to be good for the larger newspaper groups these days. Johnsons, Newsquest and now Iliffe all with their own problems.The regional press business could do with some good news.
Onlooker (21/06/2008 09:42:29)
The industry has conditioned the public into receiving their news free of charge over the internet. Is it really surprising that the public don’t buy newspapers as a result?
There is no pot of gold to be made by regional newspaper groups putting content on the web because the big-spending advertisers have set up their own sites (eg estate agents).
What newspapers have done in the last 10 years is cut their throats. It’s like solicitors putting DIY will writing and conveyancing instructions on their web sites.
Ruari (21/06/2008 13:06:40)
There’s another aspect to this story that needs telling: the Burton Daily Mail Ltd only installed that press a decade ago. As a former employee I remember the severe problems caused because the press was second-hand, had been imported from Holland and was reassembled in Wetmore Road. Those 15 workers are now being chucked out on their ear because management made the wrong decision a decade ago. That ‘new’ press was heralded at the time by the bosses as the future and was touted as the press that would last a generation. Why a press for a small daily paper with a few weeklies should only last 10 years is anyone’s guess. Had the company bought a proper first-hand press then the firm could have saved itself from now having to ask a rival to print its flagship title. As a former reporter, I’m only too glad I got out of there when I did.