NewCo expected to go live in early June

News UK and DMG print JV gains green light

Broxbourne: biggest newspaper printing site in the world

News UK and DMG Media have received the green light from the Competition & Markets Authority and it’s now all systems go for their newspaper printing joint venture, with the leadership team also confirmed.

The ‘NewCo’ that will run the printing and distribution operation will be helmed by Darren Barker, currently managing director at Newsprinters, who will become CEO.

Julia Palmer-Poucher, currently group production director at DMG, will become COO.

The new company is expected to officially go live in early June.

NewCo will retain News UK’s three Newsprinters production sites at Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, Knowsley on Merseyside, and Eurocentral in Glasgow.

DMG’s print sites at Thurrock and Dinnington will be shut as part of the consolidation.

DMG Media issued notices of redundancy to staff at its Thurrock and Dinnington sites last month, and Printweek understands that Dinnington is set to close on 6 April.

An unspecified number of new roles have also been created at NewCo.

In a statement, News UK executive vice president and chief operating officer, David Dinsmore said: “It has been our long-term view that consolidating print operations is vital to retaining a national network of print and distribution logistics and, crucially, supporting the unique plural media landscape in the UK.”

He said he was delighted that the CMA had cleared the combination of the printing operations.

“This decision means that readers of all newspapers can expect to enjoy them for many years to come. I have no doubt that the new company created by this joint venture – led by Darren Barker – will provide best-in-class service to all the newsbrands it serves.”

DMG Media deputy CEO James Welsh said the CMA decision was “an important milestone for our industry”.

“The combination will ensure that our readers, and those of other newspapers, can enjoy the paper they love for many years to come. It has been an uncertain time for our production teams and I would like to thank them for their continued dedication and professionalism.”

Darren Barker
Barker has worked at Newsprinters for more than 24 years, and prior to that was at national newspaper wholesaler Menzies Distribution.

“This partnership creates the foundations for the continued production and distribution of millions of newspapers across the UK every day, informing and entertaining millions of loyal readers.

“I’m excited to lead the team which will play its part in ensuring a long-term sustainable future for the newspaper printing industry, clients and the national daily newspaper ecosystem in the UK.”

Julia Palmer-Poucher
DMG Media Group Production Director, Julia Palmer-Poucher, added: “The news industry has transformed and continues to change rapidly. We needed to make changes to our print capacity to underpin our commitment to our print titles and their readers.

“This was a difficult but necessary step to provide a sustainable future for our print operations. Whilst I am saddened that our sites will close, this decision ends a period of uncertainty and allows us to proceed. I look forward to working with Darren and the new leadership team in this exciting new phase for our industry.”

Back story
Last summer Printweek revealed that a mega-merger could be on the cards, and the two media groups confirmed their plans in October.

In 2008, the then-News International invested £650m in moving out of Wapping and in equipping the three Newsprinters sites. The operation currently prints and delivers more than 20m newspapers a week and has the capacity to print much more than that.

Newsprinters also provides contract printing for customers including the Telegraph and Financial Times.

The sites all run the same type of triple-width Manroland Colorman XXL newspaper presses, 19 in total.

Broxbourne lays claim to being the biggest newspaper printing site in the world. It has 12 Colorman XXL presses, with the ability to produce more than 1m full-colour newspapers per hour.

Knowsley has five of the presses, with a capacity of 430,000-plus copies per hour.

Eurocentral has two Colorman XXLs, and production capacity of 172,000 newspapers per hour.

DMG Media’s Dinnington operation also runs three triple-width Manroland Colorman presses, which could potentially be retained for relocation or parts.

The Thurrock print site in Essex is an outlier in terms of its production setup and runs Koenig & Bauer Courier flexo newspaper presses, which are also used to print the Mail’s Saturday Weekend supplement in-house.

DMG’s Carn printing site in Northern Ireland is not part of the JV and is unaffected.