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Reach PLC has seen a 19.6% decline in print revenues in the five months to November 2020, as it begins a consultation over closure of Luton and Birmingham print sites.

Reach PLC has confirmed the commencement of a consultation process regarding the proposed closure of print sites in Luton and Birmingham with 150 jobs at risk of redundancy.

Moving forward the company plans to balance the production of its national and regional print titles as well as third-party customers across its remaining print network.

Commenting on the announcement a Reach spokesperson said: “Having conducted a review over recent weeks and taking numerous factors into account, we are proposing to consolidate our print operations into fewer sites.

“Regrettably, this would involve a reduction in our workforce so we have begun a consultation process that will be both full and considered.

“We would like to thank our print teams for their cooperation and understanding as we work through this process.”

Trading Update

Reach said in a trading update that digital revenues over the five months to November 2020 were up, however although resilient, circulation revenues were down nearly 20%.

The company said in the update that overall Group performance had exceeded market expectations, with continued strong digital revenue growth of 16.2% for the five months to 22 November 2020, assisted by increased customer engagement.

It added that circulation sales have remained resilient despite the recent lockdowns, supported by management action on availability and increased cross-promotion of national and regional titles.

Overall, for the five months to 22 November 2020, a decline in print revenue of 19.6% contributed to a group-wide revenue decline of 13.9%.

Jim Mullen, Chief Executive Officer of Reach plc, commented: “The passion and talent of our people continue to take the Group and its news brands forward to its digital future.

“Reach has continued to deliver great content and continues to drive increased customer loyalty and engagement.

“The headwinds from COVID-19 have been considerable, but while we remain mindful of potential impacts from the current lockdowns, we approach the end of the year with a strong and growing digital business, resilient print circulation sales, and a new, efficient operating model.

“Our customer value strategy is now entering a new phase, with an increased focus on business intelligence and insight.

“The launch of the Reach ID, which will deliver a single view of customer activity across our national and regional network, is on track for December, and will provide enhanced data and insight that will support further digital revenue growth.

“2020 has been a pivotal year for Reach and the response of our colleagues to the challenges of 2020 has been first-class.

“Whilst macroeconomic uncertainty remains, we approach 2021 with confidence in the long-term value of our loyal audience and trusted brands and with strong digital momentum.”