Newsquest to close CN Group printing ops

Richard Stuart-Turner
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Newsquest has outlined plans to close the printing operations at the CN Group in Carlisle, which it acquired last week, with more than 30 jobs at risk.

Journalism news website Hold The Front Page said a total of 34 jobs – the entire printing team – are at risk of redundancy, including engineering, press hall, mailroom and print office staff.

Newsquest completed the purchase of the publisher, which had been family-owned for four generations, last Monday (12 March).

It said CN Group had lost a significant contract to print the Metro newspaper prior to the acquisition and the company’s former management team had already commenced a review of the printing business.

Following the acquisition, Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker visited the staff in Carlisle and, in response to questioning from the company’s printing staff, promised to move quickly to complete the review that had been started by the previous owners.

“Newsquest has now announced to staff its proposal to close the printing operations and to move the associated work to its Glasgow based presses, where its facilities have benefitted from substantial capital investment in recent years,” the publisher said in a statement.

“A collective consultation process is now open and will last a minimum of 30 days before a final decision is made.

“This proposal in no way reflects on the service provided by the printing staff at Carlisle who have carried out a high-quality print service for many years.

“The proposal is a result of the tough economics of the newspaper printing market, and an ageing press in Carlisle which even with heavy investment would not have been viable in a market where surplus capacity substantially outweighs demand.”

CN Group’s titles, which included the Barrow-based daily The Mail, the Carlisle News & Star, Cumberland News and Hexham Courant, will now be printed alongside Scottish Newsquest titles The Herald, the Evening Times and the Sunday Herald in Glasgow.

When the acquisition was confirmed last week, Faure Walker said: “CN Group has a portfolio of great local news and magazine brands, run by talented and committed staff. Despite their best efforts, the company has been loss making for the last couple of years, held back by its pension deficit and the aggressive structural change that has undermined the economics of traditional newspaper publishing.

“We will be working with the CN team in the coming months on a plan to get the business back onto a stronger financial footing and in so doing secure its long term future. We will bring benefits of scale, particularly in activities such as production, purchasing, technology and digital marketing services, enabling them to continue to excel at what they have done so well for many years – delivering first class journalism and great advertising solutions for local people and local businesses.”

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