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Newsquest look to cut up to 20 staff at Leader’s Mold HQ – £4m property dividend helps keep old owners Mojo up

The new owners of the Leader newspaper have confirmed they are looking to make redundancies in Mold, while recently published accounts show the old owners received a handsome dividend prior to selling the company.

NWN Media, which publishes the ‘local’ Leader newspaper, announced it had been sold by parent company Mojo Holdings to Newsquest just under two months ago for as yet unspecified figure.

We have been contacted by one staffer who was highly critical of the old owners allegedly not contacting all the staff since the sell off, plus giving an account (backed up by a second person) on how news of the proposed lay offs was not directly communicated by the new owners Newsquest – rather it being left to a local NWN employee to inform their long term colleagues.

Twenty jobs are described as ‘at risk’ in this trade article, with a note of confirmation by Newsquest, with the work apparently being moved to Oxford. A local source has told us they believe the figure to be fifteen to twenty employees in Mold.

Within a couple of days of the September takeover announcement NWN’s registered office changed from Mold to High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, along with a wholesale change of guard in directors as Anthony Moss, Huw Jones, Barrie Jones, David Faulkner, Nerys Bayley and others are noted in public documents as formally retiring as directors.

The latest set of accounts lodged with Companies House cover the period up to March 2017, apparently prior to the sale to Newsquest, that state that the net worth of NWN had reduced by £4m due to a dividend in specie to the parent company of NWN – a relatively new company called Mojo Holdings.

A dividend in specie is a term used for a distribution to shareholders in a form other than cash, this is further explained in NWN / MOJO’s case later in the accounts as property and cars:

At the same time as the NWN sale to Newsquest was announced Mojo Holdings changed its registered office from the NWN office in Mold to a rural residential address near Oswestry. At the time of writing the directors of MOJO are publicly listed, including some former NWN’ers including Huw Rowland, Anthony Moss, Julia Moss and Nerys Bayley.

Such a move is not a total surprise as the Leader itself carried a story in March last year explaining how the aim of Mojo was to leverage property holdings in the future.

Company accounts also show the staffing levels earlier this year. It is believed the distribution and sales figures include those delivering the papers, which could be set for further flux due to the distribution change to the ‘big’ Leader weekend edition – with a move to pick up points rather than deliveries in areas of Wrexham.

It has been grim reading on the trade publication HoldTheFrontpage.co.uk regarding Newsquest publications. Earlier this week they reported that the Isle of Wight have seen a newly acquired publication opening a voluntary redundancy scheme. Later it was reported an office in Cirencester was proposed to be closed, along with four jobs being put at risk.

Yesterday’s report had further job cut plans in Darlington, plus a mention of cuts at NWN Media in Mold. This morning another story appeared detailing eight further job cut proposals, this time journalists in the Bradford area – as always the comments on HTFP posts are as interesting as the stories.

Readers will be aware of the Wrexham.com style indie website for the Isle of Wight, ‘OnTheWight.com‘ via our election system sharing, they have also documented a familiar story – a long held family publisher being sold off to Newsquest.

 

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