The owner of the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers is to cut 550 jobs, 12% of its workforce, because of falling income amid reduced demand for advertising in its titles.
Reach, formerly known as Trinity Mirror, said its group revenue had tumbled by 27.5% during the second quarter, compared with a year earlier, as newspaper sales and advertising plummeted during the coronavirus crisis.
The company, which also owns hundreds of regional papers including the Manchester Evening News, Birmingham Mail and Liverpool Echo, said more people had been reading its products online over the past three months, but this was not enough to offset the loss in income.
Reach said more than 2.5 million customers have registered to read its papers online, and it intends to increase this to 10 million people by the end of 2022, higher than its earlier target of 7 million.
The group said the job cuts and other changes would cost it £20m, but save it £35m a year.
“Structural change in the media sector has accelerated during the pandemic,” said Jim Mullen, the chief executive of Reach, adding that the company had seen increased adoption of its digital products, “however, due to reduced advertising demand, we have not seen commensurate increases in digital revenue.”
He added: “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.”
Newspaper circulation has begun to increase, said Reach, as the government has eased lockdown restrictions, although it remains significantly lower than levels before Covid-19.
Reach said that the changes at the company will allow it to end the temporary pay cuts for all staff, although its chief executive, chief financial officer and other board members will continue to receive 20% less pay than usual.
Journalists at Reach’s newspapers said in June they were considering taking legal action against executives after their wages were reduced by 10% at the start of April, which they claimed was “without consultation or consent” and with no reduction to their workload.
Several other news organisations have forced staff to take pay cuts or have announced job cuts amid a slide in revenue since the start of the pandemic.