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Publisher of three weeklies ceases trading with loss of 21 jobs

An independent publisher which ran a series of three local newspapers has announced it has ceased trading with the loss of 21 jobs.

Waypride Limited, which traded as Champion Media Group, has announced it is “no longer viable” and has ceased publication of its Southport-based titles.

Champion had been in business for 28 years and, prior to its closure, published three free editions covering Southport & Formby, North Liverpool and West Lancashire.

The titles’ editor, deputy editor and three reporters are among those to have lost their jobs as a result of the move.

Last Champions

According to ABC figures, the series had an average circulation of 129,784 during 2021.

The closure decision was announced in a statement from managing director Lyndsey Naylor.

Lyndsey said: “After 28 years publishing Champion Newspapers we regret that due to current trading conditions Waypride Limited is no longer viable and it is with deep regret we have now ceased publication of local Champion titles.

“We are devastated that our loyal staff, who have worked tirelessly to save the business will no longer have employment.

“The Champion staff have been the backbone of the business consistently setting the highest standards of newspaper publishing across all disciplines.

“It is their loyalty and commitment to serving readers and advertisers that has given the Champion so many happy and successful years as your trusted local newspaper.

“We are proud of the staff and their achievements and are sure you will join us in wishing them every success in the future.

“Many thanks to our advertisers for making this journey possible, we wish each of you continued success during these difficult times.”

The Southport Champion was originally launched in what its founder called a “David and Goliath” story following the demise of another title in the town, the Southport Globe.

It since spawned titles covering neighbouring towns such as Formby, Maghull, Crosby, Bootle, Ormskirk and Skelmersdale, at one stage reaching more than 165,000 homes.

Speaking in 2019, founder and former chief executive Betty Drummond said: “The launch of the Champion and its early history is a real ‘David versus Goliath’ story. The closure and loss of jobs at the Globe was the inspiration behind the Champion.

“Publishing newspapers has never been tougher, but the Champion team are as determined today as they were 25 years ago – we plan to be around for a long time yet.”