Guardian Media Group chief executive Andrew Miller told staff today that the company needed to 'become more efficient and make savings wherever we can'Credit: Michael Bruntonspall on Flickr. Some rights reserved
Guardian News & Media (GNM), the publisher of the Guardian and Observer, has launched a review of its printing operations in Manchester and London that it confirmed today will lead to job cuts.
In an email to staff, Andrew Miller, chief executive of GNM's parent company Guardian Media Group (GMG), said that the company was "looking carefully at our processes and costs" in order to "become more efficient and make savings wherever we can".
Miller said that the GMG had discussed making redundancies with the printers union, Unite, and would attempt to achieve "as much of this as possible through voluntary means".
GMG was unable to say how many jobs were at risk, but said that talks over the issue with Unite were ongoing.
Miller added that the work to examine new printing options was "at a very early stage" and "absolutely no decisions have been made".
The publisher is understood to be looking at a number of options for reducing costs, including moving its printing operations from the current Stratford plant to a new third party printing sites.
The Stratford printing presses were installed in 2005 – at a cost of £80 million – to facilitate the Guardian's new Berliner format.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported this morning that GMG was in "exploratory talks" to strike a deal with Trinity Mirror over the printing of the Guardian and Observer, which was confirmed by a GMG spokesperson.
The Bureau report also suggested that GMG was attempting to raise "desperately needed cash" by selling the lease on the current plant in Stratford, but a GMG spokesperson told Journalism.co.uk today that the company does not own the lease on the property and is exploring new printing options in an effort only to reduce costs through consolidation rather than raise money through selling the lease.
In his memo today, Miller reassured staff at GNM that the company will "continue to have printed newspapers for the foreseeable future".
"At the briefings in June we said that we would be making changes to the Monday to Friday paper. Some of these changes have begun, for example the reduction in pagination and the G3s moving into the main paper. These changes have meant lower output and have enabled us to make savings at the print sites, but we need to look further.
"Print remains critical to GNM and to the success of our change programme. We are exploring new ways to increase print subscriptions and to improve retention rates among our core print readership. We will. However, in overall terms we, along with others in our market, expect Monday to Friday print to carry on declining (the current annual rate of decline in our market is nearing 10 per cent).
"Growth will come from digital, and to be successful in a digital world we have to invest greater effort, focus and resources in new expressions of our journalism."
In June, Guardian News & Media announced it was pursuing a new "digital-first" strategy after confirming losses of £33 million for the previous financial year. Making its announcement, the company committed to making savings of £25 million by 2016.
GMG revealed in August that revenues had decreased by almost £25 million in 2010/11, down to £255.1 million from £280 million the previous financial year.
GNM's revenues fell from £221 million to £198.2 million in 2010/2011, despite savings of £26.8 million made through restructuring.
The printers union, Unite, was not available for comment.