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The Guardian set to go tabloid as it nears outsourced print deal with Trinity Mirror

By Dominic Ponsford

The Guardian looks set to go tabloid as its parent company looks to cut costs by outsourcing its printing.

The move will mean selling off Berliner size presses and printworks which cost £80m in 2005.

The Telegraph and FT both report from sources that Guardian News and Media is set to outsource its newspaper printing to Trinity Mirror.

The Observer will also either have to go tabloid, or else move its main edition back up to broadsheet with tabloid sections inside.

The Guardian initially looked at going tabloid in 2005 (when The Times and Independent changed down to the smaller format). But it opted for the in-between Berliner format partly because a tabloid would struggle to accomodate its then large public-sector classified job ads. That is not so much of an issue today.

Guardian News and Media lost £69m in the year to end of March 2016 on turnover of £209.5m.

It is one year into a three-year plan to cut enough costs to reach break even. Around 250 staff have been cut, including around 100 journalists via a voluntary redundancy scheme.

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The Guardian’s move to Berliner format is seen by some as a mistake with benefit hindsight.

The tabloid Times has performed better in circulation terms than The Guardian. The fact that the presses are an unusual size has meant they have increasingly stood idle as The Guardian and Observer print sales have dropped.

If the presses has been standard size The Guardian might have been able to offer more contract printing of other titles.

However, the Berliner-size redesign was widely admired at The Time and helped The Guardian win newspaper of the year at British Press Awards in 2006.

The Guardian currently sells an average of 154,010 copies per day compared with 367,478 in April 2005. Despite the growing digitial audience, it still makes most of its money from print.

A Guardian spokeperson said: “We are in the process of reviewing our print operations. When any firm decisions are taken, our staff will be the first to know.”

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