NUJ letter says Reach must rethink its business plan which is endangering the company’s survival
The directors and shareholders of Reach, publisher of titles including The Mirror, Daily Star, Daily Record, Manchester Evening News, Irish Daily Mirror and Liverpool Echo, have been told it needs a radical rethinking of its business strategy in a letter from the National Union of Journalists.
The union is in consultation with the company over more than 300 job losses – the third round of cuts this year.
The letter said: “We are calling on independent non-executive directors and shareholders to use their influence as a matter of urgency to seek a reversal in the fortunes of Reach plc.”
Members of the union working for Reach have already voiced their loss of confidence in chief executive Mr Jim Mullen and believe the company needs “a chief executive with a strategic vision firmly rooted in protecting and promoting quality journalism across diverse platforms”.
It says the company’s present strategy is “endangering the economic health of the company and the livelihood of workers, including more than 1,000 journalists represented by the NUJ”.
The letter added: “The current share price is more than 20 per cent lower than when the current chief executive took the reins in August 2019 – a time when revenues at Reach stood at £702.5m. Last year revenues fell to £601.4m, with expectations of around £559m this year. Pre-tax profits have halved from £120.9m in 2019 to £66.2m in 2022. Raiding the reserves to pay for dividends is not sustainable, nor is it a substitute for building solid revenue and clear operating profits…
“As the number of journalists is repeatedly slashed, so the quantity of stories and other content contracts. Disturbingly, the latest redundancies involve the wholesale dismantling of coverage of women’s football and other club specific content, rugby, and cricket. In the Republic of Ireland this is of particular concern where the reporting of women’s sport and the hugely popular Gaelic Games are under dire threat. The cuts also extend to ending the specialist arts and entertainment coverage for England. The dash to digital has proved illusionary and does not provide the single answer to Reach’s problems.”