NWN Media Ltd, the publishers of the Wrexham Leader newspaper, has been sold to Newsquest after being in family ownership for over 180 years.
Newsquest is the second largest publisher of regional papers in the UK behind Trinity Mirror (who own the Daily Post) and the deal will see the last ‘family owned’ style independent news group in Wales change hands.
Newsquest has been ultimately owned by Gannett Company Inc in America since a £1.5 billion takeover 1999. Gannett are the largest news publisher in the USA, publishers of USA Today and many other titles.
The local takeover news was broken via a tweet on the acquisition by Toby Granville from Newsquest:
— Toby Granville (@TobyGranville) September 26, 2017
Shortly after a fuller statement was issued via trade publication HoldTheFrontpage.co.uk that notes an undisclosed offer for the company was unanimously accepted by the NWN board.
The thirteen titles sold are the Wrexham / Chester / Flinshire Leaders plus the ‘big’ Leader for Wrexham and the Chester Standard, North Wales Pioneer, South Wirral Standard, Oswestry & Border Counties Advertizer, Rhyl Journal, Powys County Times, Denbighshire Free Press, Whitchurch Herald and North Wales Chronicle. The NWN printing operation is also included in the sale.
The extended joint statements by both Newsquest and NWN has comment from Newsquest Chief Executive stating: “We aim to facilitate a structure whereby they can benefit from the resources that Newsquest can provide whilst enabling them to carry on doing what they do best – namely providing first class local content, and advertising solutions for the readers and businesses in their region.”
David Faulkner, NWN Media’s MD said “This is good news indeed and I strongly believe it is the best way forward for our group of titles. Our brands continue to command significant loyalty in our market places and the added resource scale and investment potential that Newsquest will bring will be invaluable to our continuing profitability.”
NWN have famously been one of the last independent regional newspaper groups in the UK, and have prided themselves on their ‘family owned’ tag, dating back more than 180 years.
In the statement David Faulker tackled this point, saying “Our company has always been proud to be locally owned but I believe that this is an important step into the future at a time when the media landscape demands creativity and innovation more than ever to ensure success.”
This afternoon Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, commented on the takeover saying: “The Welsh media is already fragile and North Wales Newspapers was a rare example of a family-run firm with strong local roots in north-east Wales and across the border to Oswestry.
“I hope the takeover will not mean any redundancies, although that seems inevitable given the nature of these acquisitions by the US-owned corporation. It’s also important that the 13 titles continue to be published and printed here in Wales – NWN invested in new printing presses on Deeside and workers will want reassurances about their jobs.”
“We’ve seen problems elsewhere in Wales, where Newsquest has axed jobs at its sub-editing hub in Newport after what was described by the National Union of Journalists as a brutal and disastrous experiment.”
‘Major changes’ for Weekend Leader
In related news the ‘Big Leader’ is partially changing its distribution model to new ‘literally hundreds’ of ‘pick up points all across the area’. NWN said ‘the number of copies distributed door to door will be adjusted to allow us to make these extra copies available’.
Interestingly the notice states “Research is showing that copies of the newspaper that are picked up are far more likely to be read in detail than those copies delivered through letter boxes.”
The demand for the paper is described as ‘huge and growing’, and the move is apparently to help feed the appetite for the paper.