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Newsquest to purchase family-owned newspaper publisher

A family-owned independent publisher which runs two regional dailies and five weeklies is set to be sold to Newsquest.

The Carlisle-based CN Group, which has been run by the Burgess family for four generations, says its board has taken the decision because it believes the group’s long-term future will be “better protected as part of a larger, scaled operation.”

CN currently publishes Barrow-based daily The Mail and the Carlisle News & Star, as well as weeklies the Cumberland News, Hexham Courant, Workington Times & Star, Whitehaven News and the Advertiser, which serves southern Cumbria.

The company also runs magazines Cumbria Life, Dumfries & Galloway Life, Carlisle Living and Taste Cumbria.  It sold its two radio stations, The Bay and Lakeland Radio, in the autumn of 2017.

The deal represents the latest expansion for Newsquest which over recent months has purchased independent publisher NWN Media, as well as the Isle of Wight County Press.

The sale is expected to be completed next month after a meeting of CN shareholders on 9 March.

CN Group chairman Robin, pictured, said: “A member of my family has run this company for the past four generations so this sale is the end of an era and is tinged with sadness.

“However our ability to prosper as a medium-sized independent group, in light of digital and social media developments, has become increasingly difficult and it is clear that the challenges will only get harder.

“Faced with these and other issues, including the pension deficit, we came to the conclusion that a sale of the publishing business is the best way forward for all our stakeholders.

“We are confident that under new ownership the group’s titles and sites will continue to serve their communities as they have in the past.”

Chief executive Miller Hogg said: “It is vitally important for a local media company like CN to be part of a larger and committed regional media group like Newsquest. We still remain a local company with local brands serving the local community.

“This deal will provide certainty for our local staff for a sustainable future and with a media group capable of investing for the print and digital world we live in.”

Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker added: “We look forward to the opportunity of working with the CN Group, its staff and the community it represents in building on their great local brands and publishing expertise, and helping them forge a strong future.

“We will endeavour to support them with the scale and resources that Newsquest can provide, whilst enabling them to carry on what they have done so well for many years – namely providing first class content and advertising solutions for the people and businesses of Cumbria and the wider region.”

25 comments

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  • February 22, 2018 at 11:58 am
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    The good news just keeps on coming.
    When I hear phrases like

    “We will endeavour to support them with the scale and resources that Newsquest can provide, whilst enabling them to carry on what they have done so well for many years – namely providing first class content and advertising solutions for the people and businesses of Cumbria and the wider region.”

    my heart sinks.

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  • February 22, 2018 at 12:05 pm
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    Oh no… this isn’t good news. I started as a junior reporter in 1968 on the Penrith Observer, moved to the News&Star a year later. I’ve always been thankful for the amazing training I got on what was the best family-run newspaper business in the country. This is the thin edge of the wedge. How long before the evening paper goes and all that’s left is Friday’s Cumberland News?

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  • February 22, 2018 at 12:14 pm
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    What she said. This is the group that publishes the best weekly regional newspaper in the country; what chance will it have under NQ? Already the staffing & management structure has been seriously weakened under current regime, but that’s nothing to what NQ will do.
    NQ made lots of fulsome promises about the Isle of Wight County Press when snapping it up last year; it’s already broken mAny of them. And Hogg’s remarks about certainty for local staff for a sustainable future? Those poor local staff have only to read HTFP regularly to know that is utter hogwash. I truly feel for those of my former colleagues who are still there.

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  • February 22, 2018 at 12:24 pm
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    Has Miller Hogg seen what Newsquest is doing to its papers? Staff should not expect any job security at the end of this.

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  • February 22, 2018 at 12:53 pm
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    Oh God! Such a good newspaper. So was the Isle of Wight County Press until those klutzes took over. Cue job losses, decline in standards..bla bla bla..!

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  • February 22, 2018 at 1:18 pm
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    Miller Hogg doesn’t give a damn about the News and Star. Getting rid of a whole load of staff was obviously to make the paper attractive to buyers. There’s going to be a whole lot more going pretty soon I guess.

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  • February 22, 2018 at 1:33 pm
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    I can see why they’ve been forced to sell out but to NQ???
    if they had any thoughts about the future of the titles,the well being of the staff or the communities they’ve served for years NQ is the last group they’d ever sell to.
    Quotes such as:
    “We are confident that under new ownership the group’s titles and sites will continue to serve their communities”
    And
    “This deal will provide certainty for our local staff for a sustainable future and with a media group capable of investing for the print and digital world we live in”
    Smack of naively, denial or lack of awareness as to how NQ actbonce they’ve acquired other titles
    I can only genuinely wish all the original groups staff every success in the future,they’re certainly going to need it.

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  • February 22, 2018 at 3:25 pm
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    These newspapers will be milked for all the money that NQ can get out of them. I am sad for the staff, the readers and the heritage.

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  • February 22, 2018 at 3:52 pm
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    Oh dear oh dear oh dear. We all know what Newsquest has done since buying the IoWCP and its recent North Wales acquisition – cuts, edition closures and more cuts. Was there really no-one else in the whole wide world the CN proprietors could have sold to, gone into partnership with or sought investment from?

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  • February 22, 2018 at 4:09 pm
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    @All Subbed Out – Unfortunately who else would buy a company of that size now? It could have been TM, JP, Archant, anyone, and the story would be exactly the same.

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  • February 22, 2018 at 4:18 pm
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    I genuinely fear for the future of the staff at these papers now they’ve been swallowed up by Newsquest knowing their track record of closures and consolidations which always spell job losses and job cuts for the staff.
    To hear them claim to be glad to be part of a larger and committed regional media group like Newsquest makes me wonder if it’s a case of a quick sale at any cost irrespective of the highly likely outcome this purchase will mean to all concerned.
    I hope I’m wrong but I’m my view this is a bad decision making for a worrying future for the staff there

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  • February 22, 2018 at 4:23 pm
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    Inevitable really. CN were among the good guys in the industry, with some wonderful journos, but the writing was on the wall when the new CEO came in and started to cut editor posts, driving editorial down a digital cul-de-sac at the expense of vast local knowledge and experience. Hope all those CN staffers get the assurances they seek, but rather doubt it.

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  • February 22, 2018 at 5:25 pm
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    Pray for them. They will soon make a skeleton staff look obese once the axe falls. Newsquest are not renowned for investing in staff, a bit of a joke for a company that once boasted of its “investing in people” awards. Ask its impoverished regional papers.

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  • February 22, 2018 at 5:57 pm
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    Good luck to all the staff at CN Group. Only worked for you for nine days on 24. But was a blast.

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  • February 23, 2018 at 8:01 am
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    CN staff need to start looking for alternative employment now! Otherwise they will be getting NQ’s annual Christmas present to its loyal employees again this year – a nice crisp P45.

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  • February 23, 2018 at 9:38 am
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    Miller Hogg
    The only ‘certainty’ this takeover will provide the staff is they’ll all be job hunting sooner rather than later!

    Not sure whether the ceo and owner are aware of the pattern when Newsquest purchase other smaller groups or whether they’re burying their heads in the sand and are in denial, either way it’s a very bad day for CN staff.

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  • February 23, 2018 at 9:52 am
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    My sympathies to those affected. I’ve never worked for a newspaper I wasn’t delighted to leave, under whatever circumstances it might happened, but in this case the staff must face the prospect of losing their jobs with real regret, as they are doing something of which they can be genuinely proud.
    What always amazes me about these announcements is the use of language. What makes managers and proprietors think any hack worth his salt will be fooled for a fraction of a second by the bland fatuity of their dissembling cant?

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  • February 23, 2018 at 10:01 am
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    The Hexham Courant is a perfect example of a family-owned, rural newspaper that serves its community with real local journalism from offices in the heart of the pitch. It’s almost like someone slapped a preservation order on it in 1950. For how much longer I wonder.

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  • February 23, 2018 at 11:50 am
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    Robin Burgess has tried everything he can to do the right thing with his company. The fact it has been in his family for generations will have brought unique pressures of its own, and I can quite understand why he has done this. It is, of course, very sad – those titles will be very different under Newsquest, but that’s inevitable.

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  • February 23, 2018 at 1:27 pm
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    A disaster for a well regarded family owned company. I wish the staff well, but fear the worst. If you are thinly spread now and struggling with your workload…just wait.
    The main losers will be the two dailies; cut back to less publishing days, combined into one and then?

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  • February 23, 2018 at 5:06 pm
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    The bald horrid fact is that NQ has a truly awful record of buying up, draining off goodness and cash, shedding staff and reducing papers to semi-shrivelled versions of what they once proudly were.
    Now let us pray……

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  • February 27, 2018 at 10:41 pm
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    This is no surprise. The group (which is owned by the Burgess family) has been consistently losing money for a long time. Newsquest can now move its ad production to India, planning to Wales, the printing to one of its existing presses (watch those weekly publication days change so printing can be squeezed into a gap somewhere) and sell the site. Its smack in the middle of Carlisle with adjacent car parking. Kerching! Move the offices out to an industrial estate, get rid of huge swathes of staff and Newsquest can eek a profit for a while. It’s about business, not journalism.

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