Wales’ biggest news publisher threatens jobs cuts after slump in advertising revenue
Reach, whose titles in Wales include the Western Mail and Daily Post newspapers, is to axe 200 jobs as part of major cost-cutting following a slump in advertising revenue.
Shares in the company, which published the Daily Mirror, Express and Daily Star, plummeted by a quarter on Wednesday morning after a downbeat update from bosses.
The company, which is Wales’ biggest news publisher, told staff that it is cutting further roles across all parts of the business as it seeks to secure £30 million in cost savings this year.
In an internal email, it said: “Under the proposals we’re announcing today we anticipate that, regrettably, around 200 roles of current employees will be made redundant.”
Reach said it will slash costs through the “simplification of central support functions, supply chain efficiencies in print and distribution, and accelerated removal of editorial duplication”.
The publisher saw hundreds of journalists take part in strike action in August last year during a dispute over pay. Further action was halted after workers accepted an improved pay deal.
It came as the newspaper group said advertising revenues were “lower than expected” over the last three months of 2022 as clients pulled back their spending around Black Friday and Christmas.
Reach added that continued uncertainty in the economy has weighed further on “market demand” for advertising and campaigns.
Print advertising tumbled by more than a fifth while digital revenues dropped by 5.9% over the three months to December 25.
The firm highlighted that circulation revenue improved by 1.8% as a result of price increases, but overall revenues were still lower than expected due to the advertising slump.
Operating profits for last year will be below market expectations as a result, the company said.
Reach chief executive Jim Mullen said: “We expect current market headwinds will continue during 2023 and have therefore taken decisive action, putting in place a further cost reduction plan.
“This will ensure we retain our strong foundations and are able to continue investing in our digital growth priorities, which position us to benefit strongly when the economic environment improves.”
Chris Morley, Reach NUJ national coordinator, said: “Reach’s announcement of big job cuts – on top of the shedding of journalists’ roles around the group over the last few months of 2022 – has come as a grim and unwelcome start to the new year.
“We are today urgently seeking more clarity on these proposals and where the company thinks it can make cuts without harming its core business.
“Our members are clear that for the company to succeed, it must protect the creation of quality journalism and original content and that means limiting as much as possible any cuts to editorial staffing.”
Meanwhile a spokesperson for Reach indicated no job loses were anticipated in Wales at present: “As announced today, we expect the macroeconomic climate to remain challenging in 2023 and have therefore taken decisive action, putting a comprehensive cost reduction plan in place across the company.
“However we’re not anticipating major changes in our Welsh operations at this stage.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.