Mirror and Daily Express owner Reach to cut 550 jobs as revenues fall

7 July 2020, 13:34

Reach, the owner of the Mirror and Express, will be cutting 12 per cent of its workforce
Reach, the owner of the Mirror and Express, will be cutting 12 per cent of its workforce. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The owner of the Mirror and Daily Express has announced it will be cutting roughly 12 per cent of its workforce as revenues fall following the coronavirus outbreak.

Around 550 jobs will be axed by newspaper publisher Reach as part of its plan to reduce costs amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group, which also owns a number of regional titles across the UK including the Manchester Evening News, the Liverpool Echo and the Bristol Post, hopes the job cuts will save it £35 million a year.

Reach's plan will involve centralising and combining its national and regional editorial teams, while also reducing its local commercial and finance sites and simplifying management.

However, the recent temporary pay cuts for all staff, except senior executives and board members, will come to an end.

The group will also invest more heavily in its digital operations amid an increasing tendency towards online news.

Reach did not give details of which jobs would be cut, although it confirmed plans for "more focused" editorial, advertising and central operations.

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The firm's chief executive Jim Mullen said: "Structural change in the media sector has accelerated during the pandemic and this has resulted in increased adoption of our digital products.

"However, due to reduced advertising demand, we have not seen commensurate increases in digital revenue.

"To meet these challenges and to accelerate our customer value strategy, we have completed plans to transform the business and are ready to begin the process of implementation.

"Regrettably, these plans involve a reduction in our workforce and we will ensure all impacted colleagues are treated with fairness and respect throughout the forthcoming consultation process."

Details of the job cuts came as Reach revealed that group revenues slumped by 27.5 per cent in its second quarter to 28 June - dropping as much as 30.5 per cent in April - as sales of newspapers fell sharply amid the coronavirus lockdown, while even digital revenues fell 14.8 per cent despite readers switching online for their news.

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It said circulation still remains "significantly" below levels seen before the pandemic, although it has seen a "modest but encouraging" improvement in June, with group revenue declines last month narrowing slightly to 23.9 per cent.

Digital sales falls pared back to 4.9 per cent in June, while print revenues were down 26.7 per cent.

Reach said it is raising its customer registrations target to 10 million by 2022, having already hit its 2020 aim of more than 2.5 million.

The group also plans to ramp up spending to improve its digital customer experience and will launch a new self-serve digital platform for SME advertisers and invest in the InYourArea platform.

Reach has more than 70 websites across news, sport and showbiz.