Tindle Newspapers has imposed a pay freeze for its 900 staff, but director Wendy Craig has told Press Gazette the industry does have a bright future.
The group, founded and still run by Sir Ray Tindle, has more than 220 titles, and estimates its weekly circulation at 1.4m.
It has told all staff that their April pay review is postponed. Craig said the freeze was indefinite, depending on the length of the recession.
Yesterday, Guardian Media Group chief executive Carolyn McCall warned local newspapers were in “a struggle for survival”.
But Craig insisted the industry would recover – and said the group, and its staff, were “fighting back”.
“We’re suffering the same as everyone else – I’m afraid it’s the way of the world,” she told Press Gazette.
“Advertising in our three main categories – property, motors, and situations vacant – is dropping.
“But we’re fighting back, selling features. We’re not sitting back and letting it happen. Our staff are so good, and we are finding other ways, and other revenues.
“The revenues will come back up. This recession will not last forever. Our staff are fantastic, and we have been talking about this recession, preparing, since two years ago.
“We are very local, we try to support the towns are papers work in. The small butcher down the road, the greengrocers – we support them, in the hope they support us.
“Papers are different in different parts of the country – but we can see a future in local papers, and we are sticking with them.”
Craig added redundancies could not be ruled out, but said: “We’re taking every step possible to avoid that.”
This month, Tindle Newspapers bought four free weekly titles in East Devon.
In January, Tindle – himself a Second World War veteran – told general managers to invoke “the spirit of Churchill” in fighting the recession.