AddThis SmartLayers

Northcliffe headcount to fall by 1,000

The number of people employed by regional publishing group Northcliffe is expected to fall by 1,000 this year according to a trading update by its parent company this morning.

Daily Mail and General Trust said today that it would be cutting around 1,000 jobs across its regional arm this year – double the number estimated in a previous trading update last November.

But finance director Peter Williams said today that most of the job losses, which cover sales, accounting, and printing as well as editorial roles, had already been carried out or were being consulted on.

Over recent weeks, these have included the proposed introduction of centralised subbing hubs at Nottingham, Hull, Stoke and Chelmsford and the planned closure of the Leicester print plant.

In today’s trading update, DMGT said it had been a “difficult quarter” for its consumer media businesses in the UK and Europe.

The firm braced investors for a “substantial fall” in results for the first half of the year due to worsening trading conditions and a change in the timing of its profits.

“Recruitment revenues are still decreasing and we expect them to be down 55pc for the quarter,” the company warned.

“As a result of the tough revenue picture, further substantial cost reductions are being made. We now expect a net total of about 1,000 people to leave Northcliffe this year, double the level envisaged at the time of our results in November 2008.

Mr Williams added: “We have taken more action on costs, especially I’m afraid within Northcliffe. We do now expect our number of employees to be about 1,000 lower. The vast majority of that has already happened or is in consultation.”

Northcliffe employed 4,500 full-time staff at the beginning of this year. That figure is now expected to drop to 3,500 by Christmas – a 22pc reduction.


Glad to be out (23/03/2009 10:33:13)
DMGT said it expects profits for the current year to end-September to be in line with market expectations. Analyst forecasts suggest pre-tax profits of £187 million this year. At least the directors will still get their performance bonuses then!

Staying and sick of it (23/03/2009 11:37:21)
Even though my job is safe so far I feel nauseous having to work for Northcliffe, knowing now how they treat their staff. How do these lackeys of Harmsworth sleep at night?

John Wood (23/03/2009 12:35:23)
It is interesting that HTFP has removed my earlier comment about editor’s methods when it comes to saving money.
As a former employee of Northcliffe I will say again, the 1,000 job cuts only accounts for part of the job losses – if the way I expressed my view was offensive, then let me say it this way – people are not just being made redundant.
Northcliffe’s treatment of its staff is appaling at least, sadly the titles of some highly respecte titles are suffering as a result

HoldtheFrontPage (23/03/2009 12:50:04)
We had to remove it for legal reasons John.
In relation to other comments that have been removed, please bear in mind that HTFP needs to operate within the constraints of media law.
References to legally questionable stories which have appeared in other publications, along with links to those stories, will be deleted.

Jane Cumming (23/03/2009 12:52:11)
I have seen the so called managers of Northcliffe rolling up at offices in their big cars to do the ‘dirty deed’ and then drive off. I wonder what THEY are giving up! The way they treat staff is appalling! I am glad I will soon be out of it.

John Wood (23/03/2009 13:02:17)
While I respect that there are certain legal issues here for HTFP to deal with – the message needs to told – editors are treating staff so badly that they are being left with no option but too leave. This isn’t because of their ability – it is because editors want to make further cuts without the added cost of redundancy.
I am not the only person who believes this or has experienced it. How these editors sleep at night I will never know.

HoldtheFrontPage (23/03/2009 13:12:30)
The thing is John, if you’ve got a good enough case then the place to pursue that is through the tribunal system. HTFP should not be used as a forum for making accusations that would not otherwise stand up in a court of law.

John Wood (23/03/2009 13:16:11)
A fair point indeed – and in any other industry I would be inclined to agree and/or act. But the newspaper industry is notoriously harsh towards people who take this route.
And let’s not forget how hard it is for an individual to take on the lawyers of large newspaper companies.
Thank you for letting me air my views though

Simon T (23/03/2009 13:26:11)
Given the current outrage about unscrupulous ‘fat cat’ bosses and the pain and suffering they have inflicted on honest working folk and the economy perhaps it’s about time that someone looked into the ‘non-domiciled’ tax status of DMGT’s proprietor Lord Rothermere – just asking!

All Subbed Out (23/03/2009 15:38:04)
Anyone tried reporting Northcliffe to their local Trading Standards department for the laughably hypocritical slogan – emblazoned on many websites, its stationery, etc – that the company is ‘at the heart of all things local’? Will a single penny of the expected multi-million pound profits be spent doing a proper job of propping up the real grass-roots of regional journalism? I doubt it very much indeed. Profits equal bonuses for fat cats and bloated levels of management, not money spent on local journalists and local photographers in local offices serving the local community. Northcliffe is wandering off into its fantasy world of central subbing, web platforms, Blackberries, bilberries, WAP, SLAP and goodness knows what – recycling thinner and thinner content with facny presentation – while the actual reality of having staff to report on anything worthwhile fades into history. I cannot remember the last time anyone from the team I’m about to be made redundant from actually had time (or energy) to attend a council meeting or court session – it’s simply not an option when there are so few pairs of hands to ‘create content’ rejigged to fill the paper, website and people’s mobile phones. Bitter? After 21 years tainted by the last few years of ‘big group’ ownership, I’m beyond bitter. Try depressed, devasated, heartbroken and thoroughly disillusioned.

MissTheCash (23/03/2009 15:45:25)
I’m not surprised at the announcement but I still felt a real pain in my heart on hearing this mornings news.
There has been a steady build up to this over the past three or four years as the internet and technology in general (not strong points for almost all top management at DMGT) have been eroding the advertising base.
I left of my own choice a good few months ago and have heard nothing but horror stories from some of my old colleagues.
Many of the freelancers have been hacked away or forced to drastically reduce their prices. The staff have lived under a black cloud – many resorting to ‘doing down’ their former friends to keep in with management and ensure themselves a future role.
They will make a profit in 2009 – but the tradition and confidence have now disappeared. The shadow is all that is left and many brighter lights, in the shape of internet and internet tv, will erode even that feint shadow in the not too distant years.

J (23/03/2009 15:45:31)
I know it’s a depressing subject, but for some reason this sentence made me laugh: “Northcliffe is wandering off into its fantasy world of central subbing, web platforms, Blackberries, bilberries, WAP, SLAP and goodness knows what..”

J (23/03/2009 15:49:48)
1000 journalist out of 3500. Think how much that cut has affected the quality of journalism in the UK. Devestating. Should really by making the front page across the country, but I sometimes get the feeling t
hat not many seem to give a turd.

Northcliffe Casualty (23/03/2009 16:08:23)
J, Its 1,000 Staff NOT 1,000 Journalists. As one of the 1,000 whom is not a Journalist I can vouch for that!

Gone (23/03/2009 16:15:39)
I was made redundant recently and I feel that the way this was dealt with by Northcliff was shocking. They have no concern or thought for their staff, and I am actually glad to be out of the company.

Nearly gone from Northcliffe (23/03/2009 18:41:09)
After nearly 10 years working for Northcliffe, the way they treat staff through so called CONSULTATION,is scandalous! Being Told that company vehicle would be taken away,own vehicle would need to be purchased to carry on my job for them,drop in pay by 15%,cut in hours,I wouldnt call this a consultation,but a way to force staff out of their jobs! Which is what i am now having to do,but to be honest they have now completetly lost all their trust they once had from employees,and i for one cant wait now to get out of there!!!

R Jones (23/03/2009 18:54:13)
The only way out of this mess is for all newspaper proprietors and the unions to get together and draw up a national package whereby surplus staff can be given the means to retrain for another career, either with the same company or outside. Redundancy payments buy just a few weeks’ grace. This is a serious national problem which is not going to go away simply by employers using bullying tactics and the NUJ holding days of action or shouting rude names at people.

Ex-Northcliffe employee (23/03/2009 19:00:59)
I was forced out of a job I loved on a Northcliffe paper last year and I am still bitter. I was given no reason – it was not for disciplinary reasons, I just think I cost too much and they could get away with putting cheaper employees in my place – I’m not the only one it happened to, and the quality has suffered. Now I am struggling to feed my family as a freelance, thanks to the help of some friends in the industry who have given me work. Beware, Northcliffe staff – you could be next ….

john doe (23/03/2009 23:03:26)
I used to work for Northcliffe having come into the organisation as a keen and enthusiastic reporter. I was driven out disillusioned and devoid of all passion for a job I once loved. I slaved like a dog for the company on low pay. Like many I now work in PR, earn a decent wage and get respect from my employer. I’m glad I saw this coming and got out.

J (24/03/2009 11:18:12)
fairly good article about this by Toynbee in the Guardian today…

sadbutglad (24/03/2009 12:05:41)
My fixed term contract with Northcliffe came to an end last month and I have to say that in my 18 months there I saw my desire to be a news reporter die.
Overstretched resources, limited time and readers disollutioned with their local rag meant that working contacts, attending meetings or court and going out into the community were impossible to do everyday. Especially since the office was based more than half an hour drive fom the patch (if you could get your hands on a car). There are only so many ways you can write about a school’s healthy eating award and not want to slit your wrists.
I was given very, very little notice regarding the renewal (or not) of my contract when I know I could have been told much sooner.
Anyway, I’m well out of it.

Big Steve (24/03/2009 12:11:08)
No other industry in the UK treats its people so badly, and this firm must be one of the worst. How can it hope to revive revenues by salashing jobs, morale and talent.
I had been convinced the agents of tyranny were in charge of the news media. Now I unreservedly apologise to the agents of evil for that insult. They might be evil, but they are not stupid, naive or prone to panicking about their bonuses and investors’ dividends.

FAST WOMAN (24/03/2009 14:35:33)
Deep breath everyone… now see, below, the entry of J, who directs us to Polly Toynbee’s excellent piece today. Of course I’d praise it – PT makes the point some of us have been trying to shout over all the weeping and wailing: Local newspaper & website trusts – led by the editors being chucked in skips across the country – can provide the way forward.
When the big media conglomerates went to the government seeking a relaxation of merger laws, they actually put themselves under the microscope and opened the door to an alternative survival plan.
1. Long-establsihed newspapers should be protected, like Grade 2 listed buildings.
2. You should not be able to close one on the spot, but have to give public notice of the intention.
3. A community trust should have the right to bid for a ‘franchise-style’ contract to take over ownership of the title and operate within a geographic area.
4. The fee should be nominal, as the newspaper group planned closure.
5. In return for a repayable start-up ‘heritage grant’ from the government, the trust should have to agree to plough a substantial percentage of profits into community projects, with other profits forming an equal par bonus scheme for all trust employees.
What else?
The government could also provide tax breaks for advertisers who pay for space in community trust newspapers.
Ah, you say, what if the big groups don’t actually close the papers, but just run them down even further (if that’s possible)? Again, I return to our listed building – if the owner wasn’t looking after it properly, compulsory purchase is possible.
There are dozens of alternative ways, I’m sure, to run such newspapers. What we need is a LOUD, cohesive voice and campaign reaching MPs, the Lords and Cabinet.

Another Northcliffe Old-Hand (24/03/2009 15:06:44)
The Guardian article is interesting but government subsidies or local trusts will not be the saviour of local media – just look at the way the article has been rubbished in most of the comments. There is now very little anyone can do to reverse the downward spiral. Redundancies are the first stage and the wholesale closure of unprofitable titles will inevitably follow. Then will come the opportunity to fill the void. The past is about overpaid ‘old school’ management answering to greedy shareholders, running high overhead operations that have abused monopoly positions by producing overpriced, outdated and irrelevant products. What local advertisers want (and will pay for still) is a cost effective response to their messages – what local consumers want is to be informed in a way they find accessible and affordable. You do not need highly paid executives, an army of journalists, expensive printing presses or fancy buildings to make an acceptable and sustainable profit from a local media business. Having said that, there is absolutely no point in launching new products against the still powerful large groups and they will not simply give up the franchises while there is still money to be made but by watching, waiting and planning, a new breed of local media entrepreneur can emerge from this. Timing is all!

Long Server (24/03/2009 15:14:47)
Having been made redundant in the last wave of cuts I have to say that Northcliffe did offer reasonable compensation. But after 38 years with the company I have witnessed the excesses of the company directors and senior managers – ie lunchtime drinking sessions in the pub on the company credit card, expensive taxis back home after these sessions and massive perks not enjoyed by the rank and file. It seems that the parent company, The Daily Mail, is quick to expose other organisations which make a mockery of exploitation, but really don’t look at its own house which needs to be put in order. I am also glad to be out, of what used to be a fine organisation.

John Wood (25/03/2009 10:37:12)
Fast woman – that’s a great idea.
I would like to make one final point – I think it is our duty to inform anyone who asks about Northcliffe and what it is like to work for to tellthe truth.
Advise people against it, if we can’t fight them in other ways, then let’s starve them of a workforce through the power of… the spoken word.

ppy (27/03/2009 16:38:06)
I used to work for Newsquest as a journalist. That was rubbish. I now work for Northcliffe and I’ve never worked for a more dedicated group of peole. At my last paper I couldn’t believe how stagnated it was, some of the people running the show and it really failed to give me confidence, I was close to quitting journalism. I feel moving to work for a Northcliffe paper has given me a new hunger. I work with a great group of people who look to make the most of the changes. There is a positive outlook in the face of adversity and everything seems a lot better run, even with these recent economic problems, than they were at Newsquest. I’m glad that I work for Northcliffe, rather than any of the other groups.