Rumoured delay to DMGT Didcot closure

Max Goldbart
Monday, December 5, 2016

Closure of the Daily Mail & General Trust's (DMGT) Harmsworth Didcot printing site could be delayed until early next year.

Last week, the DMGT announced that it had entered a consultation period with a view to closing the facility just before Christmas, putting 50 jobs at risk.

However, a source told PrintWeek that workers had been given a new closure date of 20 January and cited “contracts not being signed” as the reason for the delay. 

In its year-end statement published on Thursday (1 December), DMGT said closure costs for the site, which first began production in 2007, would reach just shy of £50m.

“DMGT is the winner out of this because it will lead to a lower price for its work,” said the source.

“They are still under the impression that the Didcot site will close irrespective, but it is going to take longer than they originally hoped. Whether this was the plan all along we don’t know but it’s going to play havoc with the workforce.”

If the delay goes ahead, employees at the site will work their usual shift patterns over the Christmas and New Year period, with a break in production on Christmas Eve.

DMGT did not confirm the delay but said that the consultation was ongoing and that the details in its initial statement remained unchanged. It stated that DMG Media was proposing the closure of the site and that a portion of the work handled at Didcot would be moved to DMG Media’s Thurrock print site, while a number of third-party options were being explored for the remainder. Its main Harmsworth printing site was relocated to the 20-acre greenfield site in Thurrock in 2011. 

DMG Media is the newspaper and digital arm of DMGT, which encompasses the Daily MailMail on SundayMailOnline (Mail Businesses), MetroElite Daily and Newsprint.

PrintWeek understands that a number of other parties, including Trinity Mirror and News International, may be interested in the work that would be lost. Last week, Trinity Mirror announced it too would be closing one of its printing sites, at Cardiff, putting 33 jobs at risk.

The move comes after newly appointed DMGT chief executive Paul Zwillenberg announced in October that it would be initiating a restructure that could eventually see more than 400 jobs lost.

In its end-of-year results, DMG Media recorded a loss in revenue of 3%, falling from £731m in 2015 to £706m.

The near-£2bn turnover DMGT group encompasses DMG Media as well as a substantial B2B division that includes Euromoney, DMG Information, DMG Events, and Risk Management Solutions.

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