Free Press, Brandon Sun drop staff as revenues decline


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THE owner of the Winnipeg Free Press and Brandon Sun has eliminated 15 jobs, with more cuts on the way, as it grapples with declining revenues and a shrinking bottom line.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/08/2012 (3869 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THE owner of the Winnipeg Free Press and Brandon Sun has eliminated 15 jobs, with more cuts on the way, as it grapples with declining revenues and a shrinking bottom line.

Fourteen of the job cuts by FP Canadian Newspapers Limited Partnership (FPLP) were at its largest daily newspaper, the Free Press. The other was at the Brandon Sun.

The company, which also owns nine weekly and special-interest newspapers in Manitoba, said Wednesday the positions were eliminated over the last 41/2 months through a combination of retirements, voluntary resignations and five layoffs.

It said further job cuts will be made in the third quarter.

“Given the disappointing revenue reported during the second quarter and inherent difficulties in forecasting further advertising levels, during the second quarter and continuing into the third quarter, management has made a number of changes to reduce future costs,” the company said in reporting its second-quarter financial results.

“Management is continuing to develop further cost-reduction initiatives, which will include further voluntary and, if deemed required, involuntary staff reductions.”

Free Press publisher Bob Cox said in an interview it’s too soon to say how many more positions will have to be eliminated or where the cuts will be made.

He said the staff reductions so far, which have been in a number of departments, have not had a significant impact on the company’s operations or the quality of its products.

“We’re trying to be careful. We really do understand the importance of what we produce every day,” he said.

Cox was commenting after FPLP reported a $1.3-million drop in profit in the three-month period ending June 30 — $3.8 million versus $5.2 million for the same period last year.

It was a similar story for the first six months of this year, with net earnings down $1.8 million to $6.1 million from $7.9 million.

FP Newspapers Inc., the publicly traded entity that owns securities entitling it to 49 per cent of the distributable cash of FPLP, said its second-quarter net earnings fell to $1.3 million, or 19.2 cents per share, from $1.8 million, or 25.7 cents per share. Its net earnings for the first six months of 2012 were $2.1 million compared to $2.7 million for the first half of 2011.

FPLP, like most other traditional newspaper operations, is having to deal with declining advertising revenue as readers and advertisers switch to other forms of media. Like many others, one of the ways it has been doing that is by reducing its operating costs through job cuts and other cost-saving measures.

FPLP said its revenue fell by $1.9 million, or 6.3 per cent, to $28 million in the second quarter. The decline was broadly based, with circulation, classified advertising, display advertising and flyer distribution revenues all down to varying degrees.

The two exceptions were commercial printing revenues, which increased by $200,000 due to increased printing work at its Derksen Printers operation in Steinbach, and digital and other revenues, which were roughly the same as a year earlier.

FPLP officials said the company continues to develop new sources of revenue. Examples include acquiring a commercial printing operation (Derksen), doing more custom publishing work and setting up a digital bureau to provide website design and other digital services to smaller businesses and organizations.

FP Newspapers shares (TSX:FP) closed down 31 cents at $4 Wednesday.


— staff

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