Medway Messenger publisher Kent Messenger Group has confirmed it is going ahead with plans to close four offices and two radio studios, axing 59 jobs in the process.
The consultation period for the changes was completed late last week and 59 staff – 30 of those in editorial – have now left the company.
The company will go ahead with closing newspaper offices in Dover, Faversham, Sittingbourne and Tunbridge Wells, with the local areas to be served from the remaining offices in Larkfield and Wraik Hill. Offices for radio station KMFM in Tonbridge and Maidstone will close, with the journalists working in them to be transferred to other offices.
The family owned publisher saw its revenue dip £9m in the past year due to the credit crunch, and said in September that its revenue had dropped by between 25 and 30 per cent because of the ‘poor economic climate”.
In a statement management said: ‘Since we launched the consultation, our revenues have continued to decline along with the rest of the industry and the rate of decline shows no sign of abating. We need to take this action if we are not to plunge into unsustainable trading losses.”
The company is also restructuring in other areas, with the West and East Kent editorial production desks to combine and to operate from Larkfield and Wraik Hill. The county newsdesk will be combined with the content side of group features, and will be based on a new county desk in Medway.
The reconstituted group sports desk will be moved to the Wraik Hill offices.
Chairman Geraldine Allinson said that the decisions had not been taken lightly, and said that ‘it is regrettable that the company is unable to sustain the same level of job roles going into the future”.
She also added that futher cutbacks could not be ruled out. ‘In the current economic climate we cannot rule out further changes to our business but we believe this restructure will go a long way towards ensuring the sustainability of the company for the future and the future careers of our remaining staff.”