Newsquest to make redundancies because of 'very heavy declines'

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Newsquest

Newsquest, which publishes 160 titles including the Northern Echo and Carlisle News, is preparing to make redundancies after its chief executive told employees the company was “unable to support” staffing levels.

In March, the regional publisher announced it was placing a “significant number” of employees on furlough, while also implementing a 15% wage cut for other staff earning more than £18k.

Chief executive Henry Faure-Walker has told staff he hopes to return all staff to normal pay levels by 1st October, while the company has also started recalling some employees from furlough.

However, in an email to staff last week, he admitted that “very heavy declines” in revenues over the past three months meant the company could not return to pre-Covid staffing levels.

He wrote: “There is no escaping the fact that April and May were extremely challenging months for our revenues.  June has seen a small pick up in advertising activity, which we are encouraged about, but it is still a long way off pre-Covid levels and we expect the trading environment to be challenging for some time.

“Unfortunately, the very heavy declines in our revenues and the weak economic outlook means that we are unable to operate with and support the staff numbers that we had pre-Covid.

“I am afraid that this means that there will be redundancies and we will commence consultation with people who may be affected by this in the coming days.

“Advertising sales roles – which are most directly affected by the Covid downturn – will experience the most restructuring. Whilst some editorial roles are likely to be affected, we believe we can maintain the vast majority of journalist jobs and sustain front line reporter resource in particular.”

On staff pay, he wrote: “We plan to return all our staff to their normal pay levels from 1 October, unless there is a significant deterioration in the trading recovery and Covid situation.

“From July 1st, we will be reducing the amount of the pay reduction for non-furloughed staff by increasing the earnings threshold at which the 15pc reduction applies from £18k to £22k – this means that people earning less than £22k basic salary will not have any of their pay reduced, and people earning more than £22k will see an improvement.”