Mediahuis Ireland seeks redundancies

Mediahuis Ireland CEO Peter Vandermeersch

Donal O'Donovan

Mediahuis Ireland is seeking voluntary redundancies among editorial staff at its national and regional newspaper titles.

The media group employs around 350 editorial staff on the island of Ireland on titles that include the Irish Independent, Sunday World and Belfast Telegraph as well as regional newspapers across Ireland including The Kerryman and Wexford People.

Editor-in-chief at Mediahuis Ireland Cormac Bourke told staff at a meeting today that the company was seeking voluntary redundancies ahead of planned operational changes aimed at cementing the group’s shift to digital-first publishing. The company does not have a target for the total number of redundancies, he said.

“As part of our ongoing digital transformation programme, and in light of challenging macroeconomic influences and changing consumer behaviour, we have been undertaking a full strategic review of our editorial products, newsroom and production processes,” Mediahuis Ireland said in a statement.

“In that context, we have opened a voluntary redundancy programme as we seek a reduction in staffing levels across our editorial function.”

The group has 70,000 digital subscribers for its Irish products but the pace at which its newspaper readership is declining has accelerated, Mr Bourke told journalists at the staff meeting.

At the start of this year, Mediahuis Ireland closed its last print plant on the island of Ireland, in Newry, and all printing is now done under contract.

Antwerp-based media group Mediahuis, which bought Independent News and Media in 2019, said that move had enabled it to concentrate on its transition to a digital-focused future.

The business in Ireland is headed by CEO Peter Vandermeersch.

Financial results released earlier for the Belgian parent company showed profits last year halved as higher costs hit the group’s bottom line, including an increase of more than €30m in paper costs.

It reported a net profit for the year of €62.3m compared with €117.3m in 2021.

Operating profits held up better at €155.7m for the year versus €166.1m in 2021.