Reach PLC are closing their Chester office in two weeks, with staff who work there also covering Wrexham via the Daily Post title.
Wrexham used to have newspaper offices with then Trinity Mirror pulling out, and most recently Newsquest’s Leader publication shutting the High Street office and working from a remodelled smaller Mold office*.
The newly announced closure in Chester by Reach PLC was communicated to staff with exactly a months notice, with suggestions made to staff to work from Reach offices in Colwyn Bay, Liverpool or Manchester – or even their homes.
The closure will take place on the 12th of July affecting 14 staff who work for the Daily Post, Chester Chronicle and associated websites.
There has been no hanging about on the Chester office, with estate agents already listing Maple House online for prospective tenants. The specific Maple House office is listed as 1,539 sq ft at rent of £13,851 per annum, and as a newspaper office in England it may have had the benefit of UK Government business rates subsidy too.
The National Union of Journalists have quoted the Chief Reporter David Holmes, “It’s a very sad moment in the long and illustrious history of the Chron, which was first published on 2 May 1775, by founder John Poole during the reign of George III around the time of the American War of Independence.
“Deleting our office from the community we serve and scattering the Chester-based team to the four winds will be a challenge both in continuing to provide the same high quality coverage and for us as individuals. ”
Recently Reach have launched a Cheshire wide product, and the NUJ say that the Chester office closing is the ‘only remaining office in Cheshire’ and is ‘expected to save the business tens of thousands of pounds annually.’
One insider up the A483 told us, “We are all very disappointed with the decision and moving forward with our new working options will prove very challenging” adding they hoped readers would continue to support the work they do.
Chris Morley, NUJ Northern and Midlands senior organiser, said: “Clearly it is preferable that if cuts have to be made, that it is not yet another lopping of jobs which have been badly depleted in recent years.
“But members have well-founded fears that losing a symbolic but significant physical presence in the county capital will set a tone that will make their task of convincing local readers that the company is serious about supporting their interests so much harder.
“We really hope the company will remain open to constructive suggestions and does the right thing to make any closure as least damaging to existing staff as possible.”
Things are not all doom and gloom in Reach PLC, a recent annual report notes some sizeable renumeration packages and long term bonuses being given out – page 51 onwards in this PDF for those interested.
(*That move has been hit with an issue with old owners now landlords MOJO remodelling the offices meaning the Leader staff are rumoured to have been moved back to the old soon-to-be-closed-itself tiny Chester office while works take place. Locally the esteemed title has access to a desk in Glyndwr University to file from, in what can only be described in the manner of a hyperlocal start up.)
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