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Weekly newspaper set to close as circulation jobs put at risk

A weekly newspaper is to close at the end of the month after its publisher decided it was “unsustainable.”

Trinity Mirror says the Surrey & Hants Star Courier will cease publication at the end of the month, following a review of its portfolio.

There are no job losses as a result of the closure, but HTFP understands five circulation roles are set to be reduced to three in the South-East of England as part of a separate move by TM.

The closure follows that of Get Hampshire, which was the companion website to the Star Courier and sister title the Aldershot News and Mail until it closed in July.

Star Courier

The Star Courier is the latest in a string of Trinity Mirror free titles to close in recent months, including the Bristol Observer, Bedfordshire on Sunday, the Ely News, Haverhill News and Newmarket News.

The Bedfordshire title has since been replaced by a new free print product called Bedfordshire Midweek.

The move was announced to staff in a memo by Trinity Mirror South East, Central and East managing director Simon Edgley, which has been seen by HTFP.

It states: “We have, over the course of the last few months, been continuing to conduct a detailed review of our portfolio to ensure that we are best positioned to create sustainability and ensure we meet our strategic objectives.

“Following this review of our portfolio it has become clear that certain print titles have become unsustainable and as a result, the company is regretfully proposing to close the Surrey & Hants Star Courier.

“These markets will continue to be served by our Aldershot News & Mail series of titles. There are no job losses as a result of the closure. The last edition of the Star Courier will be 29 November.”

HTFP understand that three of the circulation staff at risk work at TM’s Guildford office, with two based in Tunbridge Wells.

A 30-day consultation period began earlier this month. TM has declined to comment further

9 comments

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  • November 15, 2017 at 2:05 pm
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    Poor circulation and nothing the doc can do. Lots of weeklies across country have the same diagnosis, and possibly the same prognosis. To be blunt, a lot of the frees are so awful they should be put out of their misery. There is probably one near you.

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  • November 15, 2017 at 4:30 pm
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    Free AND paid paperboy and it’s a point I mentioned in another post earlier ;
    ‘…the god awful weeklies for what they’re worth now they might just as well scrap the lot as anything that gets in those is already well past it’s read by date and of no interest any longer.’
    The ones where i am sell a pitiful few copies,have lost their audiences, carry only packaged up annual ‘cheap deal ‘adverts and incur costs that far outweigh their profitability and must be running at a loss so why keep them open to limp along as pale shadows of their former selves.

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  • November 15, 2017 at 6:13 pm
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    The teaser on the front advertising the attractions of an entirely different newspaper tells you all you need to know about TM’s lack of interest in this title. There are God-awful frees all over the country, but most of them manage to struggle on from week to week because they make some money. That TM can’t even give this one away, with three people apparently dedicated to doing nothing else, is telling.
    At least there’s a comma in the splash headline where it needs one, though, which makes a change these days.

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  • November 16, 2017 at 8:23 am
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    TM are really taking their commercial review seriously with more and more closures of unprofitable papers which though a bitter pill to swallow is a vital part of cost controls which every business needs to grips with.
    Looking at the dire state of weekly papers across the uk who are all suffering huge advert revenue losses and ever decreasing copy sales it must surely be time the other bigger publishing groups followed suit and pulled the plug on their own ailing papers all of which are bumping along the bottom incurring costs and overheads the businesses can no longer afford to carry

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  • November 16, 2017 at 10:36 pm
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    Happily I remain far more optimistic about our industry than those posting on this thread.
    The success and – yes – growth of our trio of titles here in the Cambridgeshire Fens could be attributed to many things but one element stands out. And that is a wonderfully talented, long serving, pragmatic and passionate duo who look after our advertisers. It’s such a simple concept I’m amazed so many publishers have forgotten it.

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  • November 17, 2017 at 10:32 am
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    @fenjohn
    No matter how talented the ad reps might be ,if a paper isn’t profitable the bean counters will be questioning its viability and likely earmarking it for closure. Huge losses across the industry means publishers can no longer allow parts of the business eg; local editions and papers , to continue to be published if they’re haemorrhaging money, the days of reps handling volume with little competition are gone, now it takes more than long serving copy collectors to produce sufficient revenue for papers to survive.

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  • November 17, 2017 at 12:26 pm
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    @norridge

    I agree with you in principle but I don’t think it’s always about titles hemorrhaging money with Trinity and a lot of the big publishers but instead a lack of any business drive or people in place who know what they’re doing anymore. This was seen recently with the moving of BOS from Sunday to Wednesday even though it is profitable and previous attempts at doing Wednesday titles in the past fell on its face here. But they did it anyway because it probably sounded good at board level and they love a bit of diversion to pretend they know what they’re doing. I’m sure you’ve seen this many times.

    Let’s take this title as an example now. It has recently gone from a 50/50 ish split of free delivery/free hand out to a near 40% cut and free hand out only. This is proven 9 out of 10 times to bring the demise of a free title while destroying revenue. But they did it anyway. Speaking from a side I understand team delivery would have reduced distribution cost on this Title by a huge amount. But they’ve not done that on any titles in Southern areas as far as I’m aware.
    They literally have zero idea people with experience anywhere anymore and at the point these titles close it is the only option left because there is no foresight 12 months previously to read the situations that would be so evident to the right people.

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  • November 17, 2017 at 1:55 pm
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    I totally agree with you @formerloyal, the majority of the reason the industry is in such rapid decline is the fault of those boards or individuals who through arrogance, complacency and lack of foresight failed to realise the markets had changed and so decided to do nothing about it, however we are where we are and thanks to poor decision making and a misguided and ill judged belief that monetising digital sites and online news would be easy we are in the position where, particularly the weekly titles are so poor and such a drain on overall finances, costs and profitability of the publishers that to allow them to continue dying a death of a thousand cuts having lost their markets is no longer an option and failure to act now will bring even more closures and job losses in the future

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  • November 21, 2017 at 6:49 pm
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    I edited The Surrey and Hants Star for 21 years, from 1984 until 2005, in which period it was a forceful local voice, full of great stories, pictures and comment.
    We called powerful people to account and were feared and respected in the corridors of power, all over the Blackwater Valley.
    This was a freebie with attitude and people queued up the road outside our Aldershot offices to get hold of it every Thursday.
    We were hugely successful commercially, thanks to a brilliant advertising staff led by Fred (no relation) Franklin and Viv Brotherhood, while the success story was built on meticulous door to door delivery of up to 80,000 copies a week, organised by Phil Stansbury.
    I also took over and edited six localised editions of The Courier, then a separate freebie, for eight years, so know the papers well.
    After I left, together with others in our small but talented editorial team, like Cliff Mogg, whose obituary I just wrote, John Walton and my wife Pat, the paper was subject to the usual round of cuts and closures.
    The few group journalists left did their best, but worked from centralised offices. Local people often never knew where the newspaper was based or how to contact it and, surprise surprise, soon lost interest.
    From owners The Guardian Media to Trinity Mirror, the salami slicing has gone on.
    I’m not surprised it is shutting down as it now seems to mainly consist of generalised features on showbiz etc with not much local content or pictures.
    What a great pity. What fun we had and I am sad that few young journalists will ever experience the times and trials that we did.

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