KM Group kicks off voluntary redundancy programme

Kent publisher the KM Group is reportedly seeking up to 10 voluntary redundancies –a month after its bid to buy seven newspapers from Northcliffe collapsed.

The deal fell through when the Office of Fair Trading referred the decision to the Competition Commission, a review which would have cost the company more than £500,000.

Earlier today we reported on group chair Geraldine Allinson saying the company was considering a move into local TV.

Allinson was unavailable for comment on the job losses but a statement from editorial director Ian Carter said:

The KM Group can confirm that it is embarking on a voluntary redundancy programme. This follows our unsuccessful bid to acquire Kent Regional News and Media.

We remain very disappointed in the OFT’s decision to refer the deal to the Competition commission.  As we had made clear from the outset, the costs involved meant we had no choice but to withdraw from the process as a result.

We strongly believe this deal would have been in the best interests of staff, readers and advertisers.

Clearly there would have been some duplication of work, and it would have been necessary to restructure the combined businesses. This would have involved a voluntary redundancy scheme, although we would also have brought a number of jobs back to the county.

Although the deal was blocked, we have decided to go ahead with the voluntary redundancy programme. Conditions in the market remain challenging, and we need to review our cost base in the light of this.

However, we will retain a market-leading portfolio of newspapers, websites and radio stations and will continue to develop our multimedia strategy going forward.

Commenting on the OFT decision at House of Lords committee this week, Allinson said the Newspaper Society (of which she is president) had discussed the matter with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and was also due to speak with the Office of Fair Trading.

‘But my understanding is nobody can do anything about it,’she said. ‘The decision has been made.”

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