Titles shut

DC Thomson cuts 300 jobs and closes magazines

The papers are safe but some magazines, including lifestyle publication Living, will close

DC Thomson, publisher of the Aberdeen P&J, Courier and Sunday Post, has announced 300 redundancies and the closure of several specialist titles as part of cutbacks totalling £10 million.

Frank O’Donnell, editor-in-chief of the Aberdeen dailies, is understood to have been among those told their job is at risk.

He joined from The Scotsman where he had been editor and just a week ago was celebrating with P&J staff at the Highland Media Awards.

Family-owned DC Thomson also publishes The People’s Friend, The Beano, and Puzzler which are thought to have escaped the cull.

But a number of magazines including Dundee-based Living, Platinum, Evergreen, Shout, Animals & You and Animal Planet will shut.

Also closing are the specialist craft, gardening, health and food publications the company acquired from Colchester-based Aceville in 2018. These include Let’s Knit, Grow your Own, Healthy Diet, Busymitts and Craft Store.

A spokesperson for the company said: “We are having to make the difficult decision that 300 colleagues will be made redundant across the company, with around half coming from the closure of titles acquired from Colchester-based Aceville.

“A huge amount of work goes into the creation of our titles and despite being loved, some titles and brands are finding it harder to be profitable.

“By resetting DC Thomson’s media business we can focus on the communities which have potential for sustainable growth.”

DC Thomson’s 1,600 staff, were told yesterday by chief executive Rebecca Miskin to expect significant changes.

Rebecca Miskin, chief executive of DC Thomson’s media business, said “significant changes” were being announced which would include job losses and closures.

She said: “We have today announced significant changes to our company, which involve the reshaping of our media portfolio and the simplification of the underlying structure.

“These moves are vital to set us up to thrive in the future and to respond to the difficult economic environment we are in.

“Our goal is to transform into a strong media business, focused on delivering real value to the communities we serve, that can face the future with confidence, and is equipped to thrive long-term in an industry which is changing at an unparalleled pace.

“The transformation strategy already in place was addressing these fundamental industry shifts, but the need to change has been massively accelerated and magnified by the current economic crisis.

“We will focus on specific connected and purpose driven communities which enjoy the biggest potential for deep audience engagement and long-term growth. We are strengthening and building the skills that will be vital deliver this.

“Unfortunately, we have also had to make difficult decisions concerning those brands and activities which sit outside these growth areas.

“We will be announcing the closure of some well-loved titles, as well as the cessation of some commercial activities. This will mean losing some valued colleagues, something we deeply regret.”

The group’s most recent accounts showed pre-tax profit for the 12 months to the end of March 2022 fell to £7.3m against a record £338.7m in 2021 which was boosted by a sharp uplift in external investments. It made a £180m loss in the previous year on a fall in its investments.

Total revenue came in at £174.1m compared to £160.2m in the previous period, while trading revenue was up £10.7m to £156.4m.

In the accounts it said rising IT and raw material costs were making an impact and had eroded margins. Falling sales of its newsstand print titles was offset by an increase in digital subscriptions.

The directors shared a dividend £558,000, almost the same as the previous year.

The reporting period took in the early weeks of the Ukraine war but preceded the energy and cost of living crisis.

Nick McGowan-Lowe, organiser at the NUJ’s Scottish Office said: “These are brutal cuts, and we will robustly defend the jobs of our members.

“Our members are furious both with how the company has handled these redundancies, and because they are seeking to make £10m cuts across the business after paying out £24m in dividends to shareholders last year.

“The jobs of hard-working journalists should not be sacrificed to pay the price of extravagant shareholder profits.”

Earlier this week it emerged that News UK is proposing to turn The Times Scotland and Sunday Times Scotland into a single seven-day operation in a move that may have implications for jobs. Full story here

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