Friday, April 5, 2013

News: Sun sets on printing of News International titles in Rotherham


The final print run of national newspapers, including The Sun, looks to have taken place in Rotherham after News International paid Johnston Press £10m to terminate a lucrative contract.

Johnston Press is one of the largest local newspaper publishers in the UK with titles including The Yorkshire Post and The Star. News International is part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and is home to some of the biggest and most popular British newspapers including The Times and The Sun.

An agreement was reached last week that will see the end of the printing contract at Johnston Press' Dinnington facilities and follows the agreement last year that saw News International pay £30m to terminate long term printing contracts at Dinnington and Portsmouth.

In 2012 the intention was to enter into new long term arrangements between the two publishers to utilise capacity at Dinnington but now it appears to be the other way around. The recent announcement states that the two companies intend to enter into arrangements in due course relating to provision of printing by News International to Johnston Press.

In a statement, Johnston Press reassured staff in Rotherham by saying that: "there is no planned headcount reduction as a result of this agreement and Johnston will explore new contract printing opportunities with immediate effect in order to maximise returns from the premium quality capacity at Dinnington."

In recent years, the facility has taken on work following the closure of other Johnston Press sites in the UK.

A 15 year deal between News International and Johnston Press was announced in 2004, extending previous contractual agreements, and was integral to an additional investment of around £20m in the Dinnington facilities that opened in 2007.

The £60m printing facility, on the site of the former Dinnington Colliery, has state-of-the-art facilities including one of the most modern and fastest presses in the world. It has the capacity to print 192 pages in full colour, 120,000 newspapers an hour in full colour and 75 titles per week.

Currently undergoing a restructure and relaunch of titles, Johnston Press announced that pre-tax profits for the year to the end of December 2012 fell from £28.4m to £12.6m with turnover down from £373.8m to £328.7m.

Total advertising was 12.7 per cent lower, falling from £231.3m to £201.9m and print advertising fell by 14.8 per cent from £212.9m to £181.3m. But digital advertising revenue grew by 12 per cent from £18.4m to £20.6m, a trend that is expected to continue.

The £10m from News International will be used to further reduce the group's debt which fell from £351.7m to £319.4m in 2012.

Dinnington is now one of two major print facilities for Johnston Press after printing was transferred from Leeds and Sunderland to Rotherham in 2012.

Johnston Press website

Images: Johnston Press


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