GMG considering outsourcing its printing

Max Goldbart
Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Guardian Media Group (GMG) is considering outsourcing its printing and potentially becoming a tabloid as one of a series of cost-cutting measures.

According to Reuters, a source close to the company said the publisher is considering outsourcing to a rival such as Rupert Murdoch’s News UK. A spokesman for The Guardian refused to comment on the rumours.

Last year, GMG, which publishes The Guardian and its Sunday sister paper The Observer, said it needed to make savings of around 20% to stem the £62.6m losses for the year ending 1 April 2016.

Adopting a tabloid format would represent further downsizing for The Guardian, which moved from broadsheet to a mid-sized Berliner format in 2005, when it invested around £50m in three specially-commissioned Manroland Colorman presses, and a further £30m in the construction of a new print site in Stratford, east London.

Two of the Colormans were installed in Stratford and one was installed in GMG’s Trafford Park Printing site in Manchester.

It also installed mailroom inserting and stitching equipment from Ferag, Agfa CtP equipment and a Schur automated palletisation system. 

Print sales briefly rose following the format change but this was short-lived and in the most recent Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) figures, The Guardian, which now has a weekday cover price of £2, was selling less than half the copies (157,778) a day than it was in 2005.

News UK’s Newsprinters printing operation has sites in London, Knowsley and Motherwell. It prints The Sun, The Sunday Times and The Times, along with The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and the Financial Times from other publishers.

Editorially, the Guardian’s left-leaning approach clashes with that of Murdoch’s British newspapers, and it was a Guardian investigation that was wholly responsible for bringing down News UK’s now-defunct News of the World. However, the two are currently collaborating, along with Trinity Mirror and Telegraph Media Group, on Project Rio, a plan to pool newspaper advertising sales. 

In 2015, Guardian News & Media established a standalone print-focused unit in a major reorganisation of its commercial operations, led by new director of publishing Richard Furness.

A number of newspaper printing sites have been closed down recently, including Trinity Mirror’s Cardiff site and the Daily Mail & General Trust’s Harmsworth Printing Didcot site.

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