Northcliffe is starting a review of its national sales operation and is looking to outsource the sales operations for newspapers, such as the Nottingham Evening Post, to Mediaforce, the independent regional sales house that represents Johnston Press.
The move, which would see display advertising outsourced but recruitment advertising remain in-house at Northcliffe, raises uncertainty over the future of senior executives such as Northcliffe Media sales director Damien Tidd and Ross Marshall, Northcliffe Media London sales head.
Northcliffe Media has entered a period of consultation with the employees who would be affected by any change, the majority of whom are located in London and Manchester.
David Roddick, commercial director, Northcliffe Media, said that if sales are outsourced to Mediaforce, about 40 staff would be accommodated in new roles at Mediaforce in the short-term, adding that "there may be some unavoidable long-term displacements as a result.
He added: "The proposed changes would provide significant benefits in terms of Northcliffe Media's ability to drive long-term revenue development on a sustainable cost base.
"Many publishing groups already work with external media sales houses and it may be that outsourcing our display advertising to a company such as Mediaforce, which already handles regional sales for several large local publishers, could ensure significant economies of scale as well as offering the opportunity to present a more rounded offering to the market."
Northcliffe Media's sales teams are based in London, which has about 25 staff, and in Manchester, which has 15 staff.
The proposed move represents a significant win for Mediaforce, which this year has won accounts for Aberdeen Journals and Guardian Media Group's Surrey and Berkshire Newspapers.
Mediaforce declined to comment.