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Papers set to close in centralised subbing plans

Northcliffe Media is set to close a number of free papers in Essex and Kent as part of a major restructuring of its South-East operation which is likely to lead to scores of job losses.

The company is creating a centralised design and production hub in Chelmsford for all titles in its South East Weeklies division, stretching from Essex to the South Coast.

Some titles are set to be amalgamated and a number of free newspapers will be closed including Total Essex and Focus in West Kent.

The proposed centralised subbing hub in Chelmsford will be the fourth to be created by Northcliffe alongside those being proposed at Stoke, Nottingham and Hull.

A company statement read: “Northcliffe Media South East announced a number of proposals to staff across the region today which reflects the need to reduce costs in the current challenging trading environment.

“In line with similar announcements made recently by Northcliffe in the North East and Midlands regions, the intention is to create a central editorial design and production hub based in Chelmsford.

“The region will focus on market leading titles and those areas where medium term opportunities are visible. In several markets, existing titles will be merged to create single hybrid paid/free titles. This model was introduced in East Grinstead in September 2008 and results have been encouraging despite current market conditions.

“A number of free newspapers will be closed including Total Essex and Focus in West Kent. Free titles in Maidstone and Ashford are also under review.”

Staff were told of the proposals in a series of meetings yesterday afternoon held at Northcliffe centrs in Canterbury, Chelmsford, Croydon, East Grinstead, Folkestone, Gillingham, Margate and Tunbridge Wells.

South East Weeklies managing director Richard Karn admitted in a letter to staff sent out in advance of yesterday’s meetings that the proposals would involve redundancies, but no figures have so far been put on this.

It is understood that the Sevenoaks Chronicle building is to be sold and that its reporters will in future be based in Tunbridge Wells. In addition the Tunbridge Wells office itself could be sold or let with staff moving to new premises in the town by 2010.

The South East Weeklies division includes the Essex Chronicle, based in Chelmsford, the Kent and Sussex Courier, based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent Regional News and Media, based in Canterbury, and East Surrey and Sussex News and Media, based in Reigate.


Bilbo Baggins (06/03/2009 10:23:55)
95 is a nice number.

Moot (06/03/2009 10:59:35)
Could someone tell me, what is Nortcliffe’s percentage figure for operating profits this year? I bet its above 6%

Kami (06/03/2009 12:53:30)
What about the Dorking Advertiser? Why is there no mention of this on here?

Snapper John (21/03/2009 08:41:01)
They were always going to do this. The economy has given them the excuse, that’s all. The message is never believe MD Richard Karn’s soft soap about not needing a union ‘because we are all one big happy family’ – join the NUJ!