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Herald & Times to leave Glasgow head office

Sunday National and Herald on Sunday - first copies

The titles are looking for a new home

The Herald & Times is leaving its offices in central Glasgow as it seeks further cuts in costs.

Parent company Newsquest was already under pressure from declining income before the coronavirus ripped through advertising and circulation revenue.

Staff at Newsquest Scotland have now begun the process of clearing out their desks at the property in Renfield Street which has a £1.1 million annual rental charge.

It is understood the search for new premises in the city centre for some staff is ongoing while others will be relocated elsewhere.

The company, which publishes, The Herald, Evening Times, the Herald on Sunday The National, Sunday National and Scottish Farmer among 200 brands across the UK, had been in lengthy negotiations with its current landlord over a potential new deal.

Soon to be vacated: the offices on Renfield Street

But it has called a halt to talks amid the Coronavirus crisis which has hit the newspaper publishing industry hard.

The 53,330sq ft glass fronted offices – with 82 parking spaces – were bought in 2014 by Kames Capital’s Property Income Fund in a deal then worth £13.7million.

At the time of the deal, tenant Newsquest (Herald and Times) Ltd had a lease for the full property until 2030.

But crucially, it came with a breakpoint which could be triggered this year. It will now vacate the premises by 24 May.

According to the Kames Capital website the annual lease for the building was in the region of £1,170,000 per annum.

Senior Newsquest management had previously scouted out alternative hubs for some of the workers, including those from the national titles.

But others will be relocated to other sites within the company portfolio including at its print centre in Cambuslang and offices in Clydebank.

A number of staff have already been furloughed.

It is unknown what, if any, implications the office move may have on staffing numbers once lockdown is lifted.

In a statement to staff, managing director Graham Morrison said: “I have called a halt to our protracted negotiations with the landlord for the extension of the lease for our Renfield Street property which expires in May 2020.

“Having taken cognisance of the situation, and the ongoing issues we have faced during the negotiations with the landlord, I have concluded that the terms on offer are no longer value for money, and in the meantime that we will fully utilise the available space that we have in both Cambuslang (Print Centre) and Clydebank.”

I have concluded that the terms on offer are no longer value for money

– Graham Morrison, Newsquest

He added: “Whilst this is most definitely the right decision, I am still absolutely committed to having a significant presence in the city.

“We are actively seeking alternative premises in Glasgow and have already identified various options with commercial property partners.”

Earlier this month it emerged that across the UK, Newsquest had furloughed around 10% of its 650 editorial staff and cut wages, including those in Scotland.

JPI Media, owner of The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News, said 350 staff were being furloughed with others having pay cuts enforced.

Industry leaders have already called on support from the Scottish and UK governments amid the crisis, which has seen a collapse in sales, advertising and events revenue.

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Politicians including Culture secretary Oliver Dowden, responded by lobbying companies and the public to continue supporting UK media.

In an article, he said: “Newspapers are at heart of the British media and essential to its vibrant mix.

“People across the country are rising to the coronavirus challenge and I suggest we all add one small thing to our to-do list: buy a paper.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We are in discussion with the newspaper industry as we continue to explore how best to support businesses during this immensely challenging period.”

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