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Trinity Mirror announces £15 million cuts as profits plummet

15 March 2012

Trinity Mirror has announced cuts of a further £15 million as the group announced a 40 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £74m for 2011. The latest plans would make a total of £120m cuts in four years.

The newspaper group, which publishes five national papers and more than 130 regional titles, is to cut pension fund payments by £69m over three years to 2015, as part of a deal to refinance its £221m debt. The report also details a new £110m bank facility.

In its preliminary results announcement, Trinity Mirror said:

"In the first quarter of 2012, Group revenues are expected to fall by 3% year on year with advertising revenues declining by 12% partially offset by growth in circulation and other revenues of 4% and 10% respectively. Group revenues in January were marginally ahead year on year with February declining by 3% and March expected to decline by 5%."

The report also launched a daily deals service called "Happli", with an investment of £10 over two years. Sly Bailey, chief executive, said that the business, which will be rolled out to 50 cities by 2014, will make net revenues of about £20m by 2014.

Martin Shipton, chair of the NUJ Trinity Mirror group chapel, said:

"The group has made it clear that it will continue the cost-cutting rampage that led to jobs being slashed and titles closed down. On past form the £15m cut announced today will be increased by the time of the annual shareholders' meeting in May. We already face a pay freeze and increased workloads.
"Any further loss of journalists' jobs will make it even more difficult for newspapers to provide their readers with the quality news coverage they deserve. We are also extremely concerned about the announced reduction in pension contributions and will be seeking further clarification on the implications of this move."

Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands Organiser, said:

"On the one hand, Trinity Mirror seems content to again slash deeply into its core business, newspapers, and yet be willing to spend £10 million in the blink of an eye on the new business fad of 'daily deals'. As a strategy, the NUJ is clear that the core business cannot continue to be neglected and raided for massive cost cuts.
"Otherwise when the recovery does come, Trinity Mirror will be so weak it gets pushed aside by its competitors in its prime activity."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"These figures are very worrying for our members working for Trinity Mirror. This is the year that should have been a triumph for Sly Bailey, with the closure of the News of the World. But she blew it.
"At a time when she should have been buying readers' loyalty and investing in quality journalists to steal a march on her rivals, she was cutting staff on her national titles. It was all too easy for Rupert Murdoch to win back his readers when the Sun on Sunday was launched.
"Evidence from our reps at Trinity Mirror paints a picture of poorly paid journalists covering for redundant posts, spending most of their time uploading websites rather than finding and writing up stories. Council meetings and court cases are not being reported. Photographers are becoming a dying breed, with papers relying on readers' pictures.
"Papers are thinner and editions fewer. The only good news has been some investment in websites on a number of the titles. That is why it is so depressing to see Bailey's only strategy to improve the group's performance is to make even more cuts.
"The NUJ has repeatedly asked for talks at a national level to look at new models to ensure the future of Trinity Mirror's national and regional titles; but we have been rebuffed. The NUJ's Parliamentary Group has written to Sir Ian Gibson, the group's chair, to open a dialogue."

Tags: , trinity mirror, newspapers, regional newspapers, new media