Newsquest reports profits of £70m while promising more cost cutting measures

Newsquest has reported an increase in profits, securing almost £70m last year as a result of cost cutting measures including sacking over 200 of its staff.

The regional newspaper owner, which has over 200 titles under its remit, including the Herald and Evening Times in Glasgow and the Southern Daily Echo in Southampton, reported a 2.7 per cent increase in adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £69.1m.

The figures were released in the company's annual financial filing which showed that its chief executive Henry Faure Walker, who arrived from rival Johnston Press in 2013, received a pay packet of more than £400,000.

The filing shows that 228 staff were cut between the end of 2013 and the end of last year, bringing staff numbers to 3,997 and helping the company make a £5m saving.

Figures also showed that revenue at Newsquest, owned by US group Gannett, fell by 3.2 per cent to £279.3m, promoting it to state that a “series of cost reductions and restructuring processes” were necessary.

The reports in profits against continuing job cuts across UK regional newspapers has left many Newsquest's staff furious, resulting in a series of strikes. Earlier this month the editors of Newsquest's Sunday Herald and Evening Times stepped down from their position at the paper which saw its third round of redundancies this year in August.

Staff in the London and south-east operations run by Newsquest went on a 10-day strike in the summer to protest over job cuts and poor pay and conditions.

To make matters worse for suffering Newsquest staff, the company has been given an Investors in People award from the public body which receives funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and sets standards for "better people management".

Chris Morley, Newsquest NUJ group co-ordinator the awarding of Investors in People Bronze Standard to Newsquest was "greeted with uniform disbelief by our members". He added that "the company’s record on employment is shocking since it neither invests in proper staffing levels nor attempts to pay its journalists decently. Most people have suffered from having virtually no pay rises for seven years".

A recent survey from the Press Gazette of more than 700 journalists found that those working for Newsquest were the least happy of major regional newspaper publishers employees. In fact it was the most poorly rated of the four biggest employers, including Trinity Mirror, Local World and Johnston Press. Staff at the publisher, owned by the American company Gannett, gave their employer a score of an average 4.3 out of 10.

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