Jobs under threat as Plymouth presses face closure

The printing plant used to produce three regional newspapers in the South West is facing closure after its owners committed to conduct an “urgent review” of operations.

Management at Harmsworth Printing is considering the closure of its plant in Plymouth because of “continued unused capacity” across its group of presses.

Press Gazette understands that closure of the plant could lead to the loss of up to 90 jobs.

The Plymouth plant is responsible for printing a number of titles published by South West Media Group, a division of Northcliffe Media, including Plymouth’s Herald and Western Morning News, Exeter’s Express and Echo and Torquay’s Herald Express.

Both Harmsworth and SWMG declined to answer questions on where those papers are likely to be printed in the future.

A source close to Harmsworth said it was likely that production of the majority of those titles printed in Plymouth would be moved to the firm’s plant Didcot, Oxfordshire, almost 200 miles away.

Staff at SWMG were told today of the possible closure to the Plymouth plant in an internal memo from new managing director Andrew Blair.

In the memo, Blair told staff that closure of the Plymouth press would not affect the on-going publication of SWMG titles currently printed on the press.

He wrote: “The managing director of Harmsworth Printing, John Bird announced to our colleagues in Harmsworth Printing Ltd this morning that, due to the continued unused capacity across the group, an urgent review of the printing requirement is being undertaken.

“A possible consequence of this review may be the closure of the Plymouth press. Harmsworth Printing staff potentially affected will be engaged in a consultation process starting later this month.

“If the decision is made to close the press in Plymouth it is anticipated that the closing date will be around March 2010.”

Harmsworth Printing closed its presses in Bristol and Leicester, which were also used to print Northcliffe titles, last year.

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