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News agency continues expansion with National News takeover

Bristol-based news agency SWNS has continued its expansion by buying the established London-based agency National News.

National is the latest in a string of agencies to join SWNS, which now employers nearly 100 editorial staff across the country.

Once known as the South West News Service, it has since incorporated a host of other regional agencies including News Team International in Birmingham, Ross Parry in Leeds, Masons News in Cambridge, and HE Media in Scotland.

SWNS has also announced the launch of a new parliamentary unit under Rob Merrick, who provided Westminster coverage for the Northern Echo and other Newsquest titles for many years until his contract came to an end earlier this year.

The National News deal will see its former directors Mike Doran and Jim Leffman remaining with the enlarged business.

Andy Young, director and group editor of SWNS, said: “We are delighted and honoured to bring National into the fold and establish a presence in the capital.

“Our businesses share a passion for real journalism – having boots on the ground to cover breaking news, court cases and amazing human interest stories.

“SWNS has enjoyed phenomenal growth in a difficult market and this is a really exciting time for the business as the digital market becomes more established.”

Mike and Jim added in a statement: “National News has been at the centre of news gathering in London for the last 30 years and by joining SWNS we hope we will be able to fill a gap in their extensive coverage of the UK.

“Despite the changes in the news landscape SWNS is still dedicated to going out and doing real ‘face-to-face’ journalism, something we both recognise as being vital to the continued health of the industry. We are delighted that with the help of SWNS our copy, pictures and video will gain a bigger audience than ever before.”

SWNS – owned by directors Andy Young, Paul Walters and Martin Winter – opened its first satellite office in Plymouth ten years ago and is now the UK’s biggest news-gathering agency outside of London.

It syndicates content for a number of major publishing groups, including Local World, Johnston Press and the Kent Messenger Group.

Other appointments will see former Sunday Mirror news editor and Daily Mirror district reporter Euan Stretch become a news editor at the agency’s Bristol HQ.

And Isabelle Potts, former head of video at the Press Association, has joined to head-up the agency’s growing video output.