Johnston Press and News UK have taken on a chunk of DMG Media’s print work, which will see the rival publishers handle production of The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday.
Printing of DMG’s flagship newspaper The Daily Mail will now be divided between Johnston Press's Portsmouth web plant, News UK's Newsprinters sites at Broxbourne in Hertfordshire and Knowsley on Merseyside, and DMG's Harmsworth Printing plant in Thurrock. Printing of The Mail on Sunday will be divided between News UK and DMG in Thurrock.
It is currently unclear as to how volumes will be split between the three different organisations but in a trading update today, Johnston Press said its contract for printing The Daily Mail is a multimillion-pound, five-year deal, with option for extension. This comes on top of it being awarded a 12-month rolling contract to print DMG's Metro for the southern regions at Portsmouth last October.
DMG parent the Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) announced last November that it was closing its Didcot site, putting 50 jobs at risk, with closure costs estimated at around £50m. The DMGT announced in a trading update a month before that it would be initiating a restructure that could eventually see more than 400 jobs lost.
Speculation remains as to what will happen to the 50 workers at Didcot. DMG couldn’t confirm if some or all would be offered roles at the Thurrock site.
The Didcot facility, which opened in 2007, has ceased all printing and will be decommissioned over the coming months, with some of the equipment being relocated to Thurrock. Didcot runs a flexo press, which produces colour newspapers with non rub-off ink.
The Daily Mail has an average circulation of just shy of 1.5 million per day.
Johnston Press, which publishes the i newspaper and The Scotsman, recently sold off 13 of its local news titles to Cambridge-based independent newspaper publisher Iliffe Media for £17m.
Johnston chief executive Ashley Highfield said: “We are delighted to win this new business on top of the Metro contract just recently won and this further confirms our printing services division as one of the best in the country.
“This latest long-term contract will give the staff a real boost and their ability to deliver such prestigious titles against very tough competition is a great reflection on the business."
A number of media establishments have reported this week that Johnston has brought in financial adviser Rothschild for advice on “debt-related issues”. It owes £220m in bonds, which are set to mature in 2019.
The Newsprinters operation prints The Sun, The Sunday Times and The Times, along with The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and the Financial Times from other publishers, at Broxbourne, Knowsley and its Eurocentral site in Motherwell.
Reports emerged yesterday that the Guardian Media Group (GMG) is considering outsourcing its printing, with Rupert Murdoch’s News UK touted as a potential to pick up the work.