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Newsquest gains new titles after acquisition of independent publisher

Newsquest

Regional publisher Newsquest has expanded its portfolio with the acquisition of independent newspaper publisher Romanes Media Group, it has been announced today.

The independent publisher, which comprises one daily newspaper and 28 weekly titles, has been purchased for an undisclosed sum.

Romanes Media Group owns titles in Scotland and the South-East of England, plus the Impartial Reporter in Northern Ireland, and was formed in April 2012 with a management buyout of the Dunfermline Press group after it collapsed owing more than £25m.

Newsquest is one of the largest regional media groups in the UK with more than 150 brands and claims to reach more than 20m visitors a month online and 6.5m readers a week in print.

The acquisition takes Newsquest from owning around 200 newspapers and magazine to approximately 230 titles.

A statement from Newsquest today said that the vendor for the sale was the Romanes management and Remich – a joint venture between Goldman Sachs and TPG.

Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker said: “Newsquest is focused on building one of the leading local multi-media publishing businesses in the UK, and I am delighted to welcome Romanes Media Group to the company.

“We operate in separate markets but this portfolio of good quality weekly titles provides a strong fit with plenty of opportunity.”

He told HTFP: “Because we operate in separate markets, we don’t currently envisage any job reductions in reporting or advertising sales roles.”

The Romanes Media Group originated with the Dunfermline Press, which was founded by the Romanes family in 1859, and includes subsidiaries the Berkshire Media Group and Clyde and Forth Press.

The Romanes portfolio includes one daily title, the Greenock Telegraph, 19 weekly paid-fors and nine weekly frees, along with associated websites, and the company employs around 270 staff.

Newspapers it owns in Scotland include the Dumbarton Reporter, Helensburgh Advertiser, Clydebank Post, Alloa Advertiser, Irvine Times and Ayr Advertiser.

And titles it owns in the South East as part of the Berkshire Media Group include the Reading Chronicle, Bracknell News and the Slough Observer.

An annoucement to Romanes staff by managing director Graham Morrison, which has been seen by HTFP, said: “During the next few days I will be accompanying Newsquest senior directors, on visits around our regional offices, to provide an opportunity to meet with local management and staff, and acquaint themselves with the business.

“As directors, we believe this is a very positive move, both companies operate in separate markets and the merger provides a strong fit and significant growth opportunities.

“All parties involved are looking to make this transition as smooth as possible, and I trust that you will demonstrate the same level of professionalism and commitment as we continue to operate and drive the business forward.”

Titles already part of Newsquest include The Northern Echo, Southern Daily Echo, Oxford Mail, The Argus in Brighton, The Press in York and The Herald in Glasgow.

27 comments

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  • May 26, 2015 at 10:04 am
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    “I trust that you will demonstrate the same level of professionalism and commitment as we continue to operate and drive the business forward.” Well, of course your professional staff would do this, Mr Morrison. Why on earth wouldn’t they? – unless you have some imminent “exciting” news to impart. This is patronising to the point of offensiveness.

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  • May 26, 2015 at 10:37 am
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    How long before “continued difficult trading conditions” force the announcement of some “exciting” news?

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  • May 26, 2015 at 10:47 am
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    Newsquest SPENDING money???!! Brace yourself newbies

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  • May 26, 2015 at 10:51 am
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    How sad to see Romanes falling into the clutches of Newsquest and I totally agree with the first commentator regarding “level of professionalism and commitment” – Why on earth wouldn’t they?

    Perhaps there is anticipation of huge antipathy and resentment towards Newsquest because of that organisations cavalier and hateful attitude towards the journalists it already employs.
    Sympathy to all involved!

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  • May 26, 2015 at 10:51 am
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    “During the next few days I will be accompanying Newsquest senior directors, on visits around our regional offices, to provide an opportunity to meet with local management and staff, and acquaint themselves with the business.”

    And they shall see which premises to sell and how much they can make towards next year’s bonuses.
    Meanwhile boys and girls, check-out the accommodation costs in Newport and Weymouth and be afraid. Be very afraid…

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  • May 26, 2015 at 10:55 am
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    Precisely where has Newsquest found the spare cash to buy this group? Might it be from its slash and burn cost savings policy?
    Be afraid, Romanes employees, be very, very afraid.

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  • May 26, 2015 at 10:58 am
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    Oh dear. If you work for Romanes, expect a career-changing announcement very soon. Especially if you’re a sub.

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  • May 26, 2015 at 11:40 am
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    Why have I go that image in my head of that French bloke crying under the Arc de Triomphe?

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  • May 26, 2015 at 11:45 am
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    Ah, the Border Telegraph, one of the few papers to add sales in the past couple of years is among the Romanes set up. Look forward to the ‘two minutes’ silence’ production being shipped away somewhere which has never heard of Clovenfords…

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  • May 26, 2015 at 11:49 am
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    Well at least Newsquest CEO is focused instead of being excited.

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  • May 26, 2015 at 12:09 pm
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    Newspapers have always been the victims of economy of scale…smaller proprietors, however well-intentioned, sell out in the end to monopoly operators.
    The UK needs some kind of trust status for the dailies and larger weeklies to protect them from venture capitalists. Journalists must be given the independence and job security to speak their minds, and the public must be kept informed about what is really going on in their communities.
    Charter status works fairly well for the BBC, why can’t it work for the print media?

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  • May 26, 2015 at 12:23 pm
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    Be afraid, Romanes employees, be very afraid.

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  • May 26, 2015 at 12:53 pm
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    No redundancies in any Advertising and Reporting positions , translated means, in 3 months time other departments might be involved in the ‘exciting’times, that is happening elsewhere in Newsquest.

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  • May 26, 2015 at 1:51 pm
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    Good luck, Romanes staff – you are going to need it. So sorry your proud, historic titles have fallen into the clutches of a remote, asset-stripping US group which places no value whatsoever on local knowledge or quality journalism. Still, more jobs for untrained, unqualified ‘copy editors’ hundreds of miles away in Newport, especially if they’ve never heard of Greenock, Irvine or Alloa and wouldn’t know the difference between a procurator fiscal and a poke in the eye.

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  • May 26, 2015 at 1:52 pm
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    The Knowledge is coming, the Knowledge is coming….

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  • May 26, 2015 at 2:20 pm
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    Whilst the future may now be uncertain, given that this publisher went bust just three years ago, and that the “new” company already have a negative net worth of nearly £1.5 million, it might be considered that these proud and historic titles – and their staff – were at risk in any event.

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  • May 26, 2015 at 2:42 pm
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    Shusssh, i overheard 30 redundancies are coming soon in about 6 months. Suggestion it is Subs department…

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  • May 26, 2015 at 4:13 pm
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    This could be good news for both companies. Each can share copy with the other especially generic material. Their websites will also be stronger with the mix of local and national stories. Both Newsquest and Romances were needing some form of business development. Sales figures have dropped so far that most of the titles are in the danger zone. This deal wins them some time as the revenue line on the graph comes perilously close to the cost line. Jobs will certainly go but at least some sort of future remains for the titles and the bulk of the staff.

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  • May 26, 2015 at 4:41 pm
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    I remember a certain Ashley Highfield of JP fame taking such a tour. My old paper is now cobbled together desperately from nearly 20 miles away and plenty more got the same treatment. I hope Newsquest treat their “new” staff decently.

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  • May 26, 2015 at 10:06 pm
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    “We don’t currently envisage any job reductions in reporting or advertising sales roles,” says Henry Faure Walker (which must be an anagram of something indecent), Give it a week or two before the long brown envelopes appear.

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  • May 27, 2015 at 11:41 am
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    Curious how Newsquest can afford to buy up another newspaper group, albeit a small one, but still its journalists are told there is no money in the pot for a pay rise.

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  • May 27, 2015 at 7:59 pm
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    Romaines put out useful newspapers. We can wave bye bye to them.

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  • May 28, 2015 at 4:21 am
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    Didn’t the ed of the Reading chronicle say they’d still be around despite the Reading Post closing? Naive statement if ever there was one in today’s climate…

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  • May 28, 2015 at 9:14 am
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    How can Newsquest afford the buy-out? How about throwing dozens of its experienced staff who hadn’t had a pay rise in years under the bus just beforehand? Nothing those shareholders like more.

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  • May 28, 2015 at 9:48 am
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    Gannett, NQ’s American parent, has not bought anything in the UK for years, suggesting that the pot of gold had turned to ashes. That they have splashed out after such a long hiatus must mean that the industry is not in such a parlous state.

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