News UK and DMG Media have proposed a joint venture which would combine the printing operations of Newsprinters (News UK) and DMG Media printing sites in Thurrock (Essex) and Dinnington (South Yorkshire). Under the proposal, a new company (“NewCo”) would be created to run the combined print operations.
The proposed NewCo, which is subject to consultation, would help improve the efficiency of News UK and DMG Media’s print operations and establish a sustainable business model for the future of national newspaper printing in the UK.
National print newspaper circulation has declined by more than 60% in the past 10 years and the challenging economic climate, combined with rising inflationary costs, and accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, has put significant additional pressures on the media industry.
News UK and DMG Media say they believe now is the time to improve the efficiency of their print operations. The proposed NewCo would print on average over three million newspapers each night and almost 22 million a week.
The proposed NewCo would operate independently, with its own senior leadership team drawn from Newsprinters and DMG Media. The NewCo is limited to the parties’ printing operations and does not represent closer working between News UK and DMG Media on media, editorial or commercial activity.
The proposal would retain the three current Newsprinters sites in Broxbourne (Hertfordshire), Knowsley (Merseyside) and Eurocentral (Glasgow), and would potentially mean the closure of DMG Media sites in Thurrock and Dinnington. DMG Media would retain ownership of the Carn print site in Northern Ireland which is unaffected by this proposal and will operate as normal.
Both parties say they are engaging with the relevant regulatory authorities, including the Competition and Markets Authority. Until these regulatory processes are complete, the DMG Media printing business and Newsprinters UK remain separate and independent and will continue to operate as such.
Managing Director of Newsprinters UK, Darren Barker, said: “Millions of newspapers are printed and distributed across the UK every day, informing and entertaining millions of their loyal readers. But the reality is that print readership has been in decline for some years now, and the sector has come under increasing pressure to better align capacity with demand.
“I believe this joint venture is a genuinely exciting solution which sets out a long-term sustainable future for the newspaper printing industry, clients and the national daily newspaper ecosystem in the UK.”
DMG Media Group Production Director, Julia Palmer-Poucher, said: “The news industry has transformed and continues to change rapidly. DMG Media is at the forefront of this transformation and also remains committed to its print titles, its workforce and its readers.
“The decade-long decline in print circulation has not been matched with changes to print capacity and we must find ways to keep physical newspapers, which have an important future, commercially viable. This proposed combination would provide a long-term solution for the Mail print titles and a sustainable future for the newspaper printing industry.
“We are aware this will be an uncertain time for those potentially impacted and our priority is to provide staff with the support they need throughout this process.”Keep up-to-date with publishing news: sign up here for InPubWeekly, our free weekly e-newsletter.