Trinity Mirror plans to cut some 550 jobs as part of a programme to save £25m a year by 2005.
An announcement published alongside its interim results said the company’s future would be reached through a three-phase programme of “stabilise, revitalise and grow”, a new performance-based strategy.
Moves also include selling its Northern Ireland titles, “unlocking value” in group assets, reducing debt.
Cost-cutting will hit most areas of the business and include centralising some company-wide functions, such as finance, personnel and IT.
Trinity Mirror employs some 12,000 staff and produces more than 260 titles.
The process has already begun in the regionals division, which has this month delayered its management structure and is about to pursue further “revenue-enhancing and cost-reducing activity”.
A consultation period on 18 divisional staff jobs based at regional centres in Liverpool and London also came to an end this week – although editorial staff from individual newspapers were not thought to be at risk.
The regional newspapers are being seen as “key planks” in the changes and are set to increase their rate of performance and improvement to “take full advantage of their positions of local leadership” and the scale of the regional portfolio as a whole.
The next stage will tackle circulation, cover pricing, product development and further cost reductions – and will be pursued “with more vigour and focus” than so far achieved, according to the report.
The division continued to improve its financial performance in the past six months, increasing operating profit by nine per cent to £62m. The regional newspaper titles increased operating profit by 3.8 per cent to £64.8m.
This came in the face of difficult trading conditions, during which the regionals also managed to make £3.5m of cost savings.
Trinity Mirror businesses in the North East and Scotland achieved double digit growth in operating profit.
Midlands and London and the South East experienced more volatile trading. Difficult trading in the Midlands was driven by the local re-generation programme in Birmingham, resulting in substantial short-term disruption to the local retail trade, and disappointing trading in Coventry.
In London and the South East advertising conditions continued to prove difficult, in particular in recruitment.
Advertising revenues in the regionals division increased 0.6 per cent to £204.1m.
Circulation revenue declined by one per cent to £40.8m with limited cover price increases partially offsetting volume declines.
With the exception of some weekly titles which increased circulation volumes, all titles showed declines consistent with the market.
Cost savings worth £5.6m across the company have already been made so far this year.
Chief executive Sly Bailey said: “The actions I am putting in place will transform our business so that its value as a whole is undeniably more than the sum of its parts.”
Chairman Sir Victor Blank said: “Sly has provided a clear plan highlighting what this business needs to improve its performance and returns to out shareholders. The board is enthusiastic about the plans and the progress being made.”
The interim results for the company as a whole for the first half-year show profits of £101.4m, compared with £95.8m last year – up 5.8 per cent. Group revenue fell by 0.4 per cent, to £551.5m, due partly to a fall in circulation revenue.
Century publishes The News Letter in Belfast, the Belfast News and Farming Life.
Derry publishes the Derry Journal, the Donegal Democrat, the Donegal People’s Press, the Letterkenny Listener, the Foyle News and the City News.
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