HomeUKBelfast Telegraph publisher to close Newry print site and contract printing

Belfast Telegraph publisher to close Newry print site and contract printing

Mediahuis Ireland, which publishes the Belfast Telegraph and titles in the Republic, has announced a proposal to close its print plant in Newry, Co Down.

he group plans to replace the print capacity with new long-term printing agreements or contracts with the Irish Times group and other third-party providers.

The group had consolidated all of its Irish printing at the Newry plant in recent years following its closure or withdrawal from three previously owned printing facilities including at Citywest on the edge of Dublin.

In a statement to staff on Tuesday Mediahuis Ireland, which is headed by CEO Peter Vandermeersch, said the proposal to close the printing facility is a direct consequence of reduced newspaper volumes and escalating prices including substantial distribution costs.

“Our priority is on protecting the future of our business by responding to the changing needs of our industry, and to ensure a future sustainable publishing model as we continue our transition to a digital focused news organisation,” the company said in the statement to staff.

The news came as the Republic’s Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe acknowledged the pressure on the media industry with a cut in the Vat rate from 9% to 0%.

It is expected that the print site will be vacated by the beginning of 2023.

The company said it has entered a period of consultation and engagement with employees in Newry. The staff directly involved include a number of highly qualified and experienced printing, mechanical and electrical specialists.

In 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 company said.

Sub-contracting arrangements are already in place with a number of third-party service providers.

The Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life will continue to be printed in Northern Ireland.

The planned closure of the Newry site followed news that the The Fingal Independent, a weekly local newspaper in north county Dublin, will close in October amid rising costs and falling revenues.

Mediahuis Ireland announced its intention to cease publication of the North Dublin weekly newspaper title to staff on Tuesday.

The media group, which also belfasttelegraph.co.uk and , said it is working to develop a new Dublin Local initiative which will provide a dedicated online alternative for the Fingal audience.

The company said it will continuing its publishing commitment to the Drogheda Independent and The Argus in Dundalk.

The Fingal Independent was first published in 1983 and covers the areas of Swords, Balbriggan, Lusk, Rush, Skerries, Malahide, Portmarnock and Balrothery in North County Dublin.

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 October 26, Mediahuis said in a statement.

“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,” the company said.

“Already this has resulted in the acquisition of some 58,000 subscribers to date in just over 2.5 years.”

At the Fingal Independent, the company has commenced a 30 day period of consultation and engagement with what is described as a small number of impacted employees to ensure that the process is managed as efficiently as possible and that all necessary supports are provided.

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