Views Article – Sharenet Wealth

Europe, News

UK’s Daily Mirror publisher Reach to cut 550 jobs

* Reach to cut 12% of its workforce

* Pandemic hit circulation and advertising

* Shares slide 11.5% (Adds further CEO comments, updates shares)

By Paul Sandle

LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) – Daily Mirror owner Reach said on Tuesday it would cut about 550 jobs, or 12% of its workforce, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit circulation and advertising at its national and regional newspapers in Britain.

Reach, whose titles also include the Daily Express and a stable of regional newspapers, said second-quarter revenue declined 27.5%, with print revenue down 29.5% and digital revenue down 14.8%.

It is the latest in a stream of UK companies to announce job cuts in the wake of the pandemic, and its shares were down 11.5% at 79 pence in early trade.

Chief Executive Jim Mullen said the pandemic had accelerated the shift from print to digital, with more than 41 million visitors to the group’s websites in May and customer registrations passing the 2.5 million mark.

“However, due to reduced advertising demand, we have not seen commensurate increases in digital revenue,” he said.

Mullen said COVID-19 hit the smaller businesses that advertised in its regional titles particularly hard, with two-thirds of them not picking up the phone when called by sales teams in April.

Advertising and circulation had improved slightly by June, he said, but trading was still well below pre-COVID levels.

Jobs will be cut across national and regional operations, Mullen said, in a plan that will deliver 35 million pounds ($44 million) in annual savings at a one-off cost of about 20 million pounds.

Rival News UK, publisher of the Sun and the Times newspapers, also warned staff last month of impending job cuts, with Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks saying some tough decisions needed to be made in the coming months.

Reach cut staff wages in April by 10% and management pay by 20% and suspended bonuses to save money. It also scrapped its dividend.

Before COVID-19 hit, Mullen was making progress in improving Reach’s bottom line through efficiencies, driving its shares to a five-year high of 187 pence in February. They have now fallen 58% from that level.

Mullen said the job cuts announced on Tuesday were not about cost-cutting but were about a more effective use of resources.

“Over the medium to long term we see a bright future for our journalism,” he said. ($1 = 0.8016 pounds) (Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by James Davey/ Louise Heavens/Susan Fenton)

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