Newsquest, publisher of The Herald titles and the Greenock Telegraph, is being asked to explain the “missing millions” from its latest accounts.
The company has used a new accounting model to report a turnover of just £1 million against £279m for 2014 under the old system.
This has produced an operating loss for 2015 of £47m against an operating profit of £51m in the year before.
The National Union of Journalists also points out that the firm, which publishes several hundred local papers around the UK, will incur penalties for filing its accounts four months late.
Newsquest, which is owned by US publishing giant Gannett, has moved to a new accounting model that it claims allows it to “take advantage of disclosure exemptions allowed under this standard”, reports trade publication PressGazette.
Chris Morley, NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser, said: “We are astonished that the company has moved to make its accounts even more opaque and less relevant when long-suffering staff deserve far better.
“As it is, missing the formal deadline to file the accounts by four months has cost the company thousands in fines – money that is desperately needed to invest in starved editorial resources.”
The 2015 accounts show that the company’s “highest paid director”, presumed to be chief executive and former Scotsman Publications manager Henry Faure Walker, received total pay of £591,804, up from £401,505 (for nine months’ work) the year before .
Faure Walker’s pension contributions were set at £18,252 for 2015, up from £13,240 on the year before. He also received “one-off relocation costs” of £47,000 in 2015.
Mr Morley said: “The chief executive’s pay is incredibly high given the significantly smaller scale of the group and the huge amount of additional share options flowing his way.
“I’m sure the many journalists in the north of England and elsewhere in the country, whose jobs were destroyed when the work moved to Newport subbing hub, would have seriously considered moving if they had been given the relocation allowance made available to the chief executive.”