South West daily the Torquay Herald Express is to convert to a weekly title next month with the loss of around half of the current 32 editorial jobs.
In what is likely to be the first of several frequency changes announced by the regional publisher, the 86-year-old title will go from one of the country’s smallest dailies to one of its biggest weeklies overnight.
The last daily edition of the Herald Express will be published on Friday 15 July, with the first weekly edition hitting the streets on Thursday 21 July.
Today’s announcement follows a wide-ranging portfolio review announced by Northcliffe managing director Steve Auckland shortly after he took up the role in March.
Said Steve: “The move to weekly for The Herald Express is part of our strategy to respond to the market and improve the long-term performance of the business.
“The new improved paper will provide the best possible product for readers in this area while offering a more valuable proposition in terms of advertising revenue.
“The Herald Express has a fantastic heritage. We will build on that to give readers in the South Devon area a must read with unrivalled news coverage from the area.
“The early drafts look great – it really is a meaty product.”
Herald Express editor Andy Phelan added: “The Herald Express has been one of the country’s best-performing daily titles for many years in terms of its circulation figures. Our readers and advertisers have been tremendously loyal and we value them highly.
“The Herald Express has evolved over the years and this is another step on that journey.
“By moving to weekly publishing we believe we will be moving more closely in line with the needs of our readers and advertisers.
“We also believe that in a changing market environment, this is the best way to secure the long-term future of a strong, independent news organisation serving Torbay and South Devon.”
The company is not putting a figure on the number of job losses arising from the changeover, pending a formal consultation period with staff which began today.
However HTFP understands that around half of the 32 editorial posts at the title will go, although discussions on the exact number are continuing.
The Herald Express was founded in 1925 and currently has an average daily circulation of 21,112 according to the most recent ABC figures.
Northcliffe said the aim was produce a 100-page plus weekly paper in addition to supplements, offering readers what it called “a more substantial and quality read.”
In addition to the weekly print edition, daily news updates will be carried on the www.thisissouthdevon.co.uk website, where the Herald Express will continue to have a dedicated news channel.
The switch from daily to weekly has already been successfully pioneered by the Bath Chronicle, also owned by Northcliffe, which made the change in 2007.