Guardian Media Group’s publishing division will restart its voluntary redundancy scheme that has run throughout much of the last year with immediate effect.
GNM’s commercial teams will not be part of the voluntary redundancy programme, but instead continue with a separate restructuring process of their own, led by Chris Pelekanou, already underway.
In editorial, the loss of around 100 roles from a team of 650 is expected to reduce costs by £7m, although a similar voluntary initiative last year only produced a third of departures required.
GMG does not release its full annual report until August, but today revealed operating losses before exceptional items and amortisation at GNM of £44.2m, up from £38.3m the year before.
This figure is expected to rise further once a number of exceptional items are taken into account, which the company did not detail today.
The GMG board has also taken the decision to write down the carrying value of GMG Radio, prior to its disposal, by £54.2m, resulting in GMG posting a pre-tax loss of £75.6m for the year ending 31 March 2012.
A GMG spokesperson later said the combined value of GMG’s cash balance and investment fund increased from £197.4 million to £225.8m, and stressed this does not include proceeds from the estimated £70m sale of GMG Radio to Global Radio.
Digital-first strategy said to be delivering
In four separate sessions, more than 1,000 staff were briefed by GMG’s chief executive Andrew Miller and editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger on the group’s position today (17 July), one year into its five year "digital-first" transformation strategy.
Over the life of the five-year plan, which runs to 2016, editorial budgets will be held flat while changes to how the group publishes news and engages readers will be made.
Staff were told the strategy was "delivering", with digital revenue rising 16.3% to £45.7m in the financial year, largely offsetting declines in print.
Miller credited this "significant surge" in digital revenue for having helped GNM largely maintain revenue, despite "a very tough market", with total revenues of £196.2m, compared to £198.2m the previous year.
Also, the year that had brought the closure of News of the World and senior departures at arch rival News International was called "extraordinary" by Rusbridger, who pointed to the group’s "largest ever audience".
Drawing on research from Kantar, GNM was said to have a larger British cross-platform audience than any of its quality news competitors, with 5.8 million people consuming its content each week, compared to 5.77 million digital and print reach of The Times and Sunday Times.
The Guardian’s digital-only US operation, opened in September 2011, is said to have driven an 80% increase in US audience, to more than 20 million unique browsers per month.
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