Guardian Media Group (GMG) has confirmed that The Guardian and Observer will switch from their mid-size Berliner format to a tabloid size next month.
The Guardian will launch in tabloid format on 15 January while The Observer will follow on 21 January. Katharine Viner, editor of The Guardian, confirmed the move during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show on Wednesday (6 December).
On the programme Viner said: "We've got the same amount of journalism. The cost savings are all in production and printing processes rather than in the journalism. I think that when you make a big change like that, you want to keep quite a lot the same so that loyal readers aren't too discomforted, but at the same time you want to throw in some surprises and do some improvements, make decisions about every little bit really.
"The role of the newspaper in people's lives is changing all the time – the role of a tangible, physical object in a digital world is really interesting to think about what that's for. Maybe it's more explanatory, maybe it's more keepable, maybe it's more visual-beautiful – that's the way we're thinking about it."
Following speculation about the move, The Guardian owner GMG had already revealed in June that printing will be outsourced to Trinity Mirror and it has now confirmed that this will take place at Trinity’s Watford, Oldham and Glasgow plants.
A GMG spokesperson told PrintWeek: “Around 50 staff who work at our print sites will be leaving GNM [Guardian News & Media] as a result of the move to tabloid.
“We have been consulting with them since we made our decision back in June to ensure they are aware of the process and options, and have aimed to offer as much support as possible.”
The decision to shift its print will lead to GMG closing its printing sites, which house three Manroland Colorman presses, purchased in 2005 as part of an £80m investment.
The move has been instituted as part of several cost-cutting measures to help GMG recover a £37.8m operating loss and break even by 2019.
The Guardian's print circulation has more than halved over the past decade, with the most recent figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, for July 2017, setting daily circulation at 149,420 – down 10% year-on-year.