Staff at Midland newspapers the Express & Star and Shropshire Star are facing the prospect of compulsory job cuts after a drive to find voluntary redundancies failed to produce enough takers.
Between 60 and 70 staff will be told they are losing their jobs, on top of fewer than 50 staff who opted for voluntary redundancies.
Midland News Association, the publisher of the newspapers, said in October last year it was looking to cut 120 staff as it merged its two main businesses, Express & Star Ltd and the Telford-based Shropshire Newspapers.
The cuts, across all departments, came as part of the company’s drive to cut staffing by 10 per cent to slash costs by £3 million a year.
The company said it was not issuing any additional statement other than the information it put out last year when it indicated it had hoped to achieve the job cuts through voluntary redundancies, although it did not rule out compulsory cutbacks.
In a letter to staff last year, Midland News Association said trading conditions had been difficult and continued to decline with seemingly little prospect of recovery over 18 months.
It said there had been a dramatic decline in revenues in the key recruitment, motoring and property categories of advertising and raw material costs were increasing.
Meanwhile, free weekly newspaper the Birmingham Independent has ditched its print version and gone online-only.
Director Stacey Harding said the paper took the move in response to rising print costs and changes in readership habits, but stressed there would be no job cuts among journalists.
The Birmingham Independent, which bills itself as a “good news” paper, produced its last print edition in November when it had a circulation of 50,000.
Ms Harding said: “We had been online since last summer and took the decision the paper would no longer be printed in a paper format.
“We were getting 85,000 hits per month on our newspaper website and were considering the rising costs with printing and distributing. It’s been well-documented that more people are migrating towards websites.”
Birmingham Independent Group, the holding company of Birmingham Independent Newspapers, called in the administrators late last year due to difficulties in the retail advertising market.
But bosses at the group said that its operations, which are organised into three firms under the umbrella of the Birmingham Independent Group, would not be affected by the collapse of the parent company.
Birmingham Independent Newspapers sits alongside Education News, an online and print publication delivered to households in Birmingham and TV Online which incorporates internet TV channel mybrumtv.
Ms Harding pointed to the company’s high-definition video website business as providing good potential for high growth this year, saying she was “extremely optimistic” for the company’s future.
“We have actually taken on three new sales staff – we’re extremely optimistic.“