Guardian News & Media is proposing to restructure its printing operations in Manchester and Stratford six years after it spent £80m installing specialised Berliner presses.
GNM confirmed the review will lead to staff cuts, and there are reports it is in discussions with Daily Mirror publisher Trinity Mirror about The Guardian and Observer being printed at its plant in Watford.
Because The Guardian is the only national title to be published in Berliner page format, it is difficult for spare capacity on its presses to be used to print other titles.
Guardian Media Group chief executive Andrew Miller said in an email to staff reported by the Guardian that it was a ‘difficult decision’to restructure, adding: ‘In common with other publishing houses, we are also looking at a wide range of potential longer-term options for our printing operations, one of which would be to move them to a third party.
“The work to examine this is at a very early stage and absolutely no decisions have been made.”
He added: “To be successful in a digital world we have to invest greater effort, focus and resources in new expressions of our journalism.
“Every one of our competitors has changed their printing arrangements over recent years. There are now many moves in the print industry towards greater consolidation, and we are exploring options while also looking at how we can increase the revenue we already produce from the sites.”
If Trinity does take on the contract it is understood that GNM would transfer its Berliner presses to Watford.
In September, The Guardian announced its ‘G3’supplements – media, education and society – would no longer be printed as separate supplements and would instead be published within the main body of the paper.
Five months ago GNM announced it was to become a ‘digital-first’organisation, which means investment and effort is to be focused on digital operations rather than print.
Miller said GNM will be printing newspapers for the “foreseeable future” but reiterated that in future growth will come from digital, which currently contributes around £35-40m a year of Guardian News and Media’s £221m turnover (2009/2010 figures). Last year GNM made an operating loss of £37.8m.