Mediahuis Ireland today announces the next steps in its transformation roadmap as part of its strategy to focus resources on its core publishing expertise in both print and digital.
The Company has announced the proposal to close its print site located in Newry, Co. Down, Northern Ireland, and the placement of its future print requirements with the Irish Times group and other third-party providers under long-term contract printing agreements.
Mediahuis has, over recent years, consolidated its print requirements from three previously owned printing facilities into one centralised site in Newry, and already has certain sub-contracting arrangements in place with a number of third-party service providers. This proposed change provides the opportunity to further enhance those successful relationships and transitions the group to a variable print operating model.
In the future, it is intended that the group’s titles will be printed with the Irish Times and other third-party providers, with the aim of optimising the distribution network and reducing transport requirements and carbon footprint. The group’s Northern titles, the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life, will continue to be printed in Northern Ireland.
The proposal to close the printing facility is a direct consequence of reduced newspaper volumes and escalating prices including substantial distribution costs. It is expected that the print site will be vacated by the beginning of 2023. In a separate development, Mediahuis Ireland has also announced its intention to cease publication of its North Dublin weekly newspaper title The Fingal Independent while continuing its publishing commitment to the Drogheda Independent and The Argus in Dundalk. The Fingal Independent was first published in 1983, to provide dedicated local news every week to the areas of Swords, Balbriggan, Lusk, Rush, Skerries, Malahide, Portmarnock and Balrothery in North County Dublin. However a structural decrease in revenues in these suburban regions, combined with a very strong increase in costs, has led to the fact that this standalone print title is no longer profitable. The last issue will appear on Wednesday 26th October. Mediahuis as a group has a strong portfolio of market-leading brands and over the coming period we will work to transition our readers and customers to our alternative online offerings as part of our digital roadmap. Already this has resulted in the acquisition of some 58,000 subscribers to date in just over 2.5 years. In this context we are also working over the coming months to develop a new Dublin Local initiative which will provide a dedicated online alternative for our current Fingal audience.
We appreciate the impact of both of these announcements on those employees directly involved, which includes a number of highly qualified and experienced printing, mechanical and electrical specialists and members of our talented publishing team. We will commence a period of consultation and engagement to ensure that these employees are fully supported throughout the process, and we will do our utmost to communicate transparently and to manage the transition as efficiently as possible. Mediahuis believes in strong and independent journalism that makes a positive contribution to society. We remain fully committed to delivering trusted national and local journalism in a sustainable way throughout Ireland and our priority is on protecting the future of our business as we transition to a digital focused news organisation.