Beano and Stylist publisher DC Thomson to cut 300 staff
The publisher of the Beano and Scottish newspapers including the Press and Journal and the Courier is to cut almost a fifth of its workforce and shut almost 40 magazines as the economic downturn forces a digitally-focused “reset” of the business.
Dundee-based DC Thomson, which also owns businesses including the fashion title Stylist, is to cut 300 of its 1,600 workforce in a bid to shave £10m of costs.
The privately held company said that about half of the job losses will come from the complete closure of its operation in Colchester, home to subsidiary Aceville Publications, which produces about 20 to 30 magazines in sectors including gardening, health and food.
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When DC Thomson acquired Aceville in 2018, at the time calling it “one of the fastest-growing publishing houses in the UK”, the operation ran about 50 consumer and business-to-business titles.
The company will also close at least six magazines run out of its Dundee office, including Living, Platinum, Evergreen, Shout, Animals & You and Animal Planet.
“A huge amount of work goes into the creation of our titles and despite being loved, some titles and brands are finding it harder to be profitable,” said a spokesperson for DC Thomson. “By resetting DC Thomson’s media business we can focus on the communities which have potential for sustainable growth.”
The company owns flagship brands including Beano, the UK’s longest-running comic and home to famous characters including Dennis the Menace, and the People’s Friend. The future of titles including Bunkered and Puzzler is unclear.
According to sources bout 100 jobs are at risk across the company’s newspaper portfolio, which also includes the Evening Telegraph and the Sunday Post.
“These moves are vital to set us up to thrive in the future and to respond to the difficult economic environment we are in,” said Rebecca Miskin, chief executive of DC Thomson’s media business. “The transformation strategy already in place was addressing fundamental industry shifts, but the need to change has been massively accelerated and magnified by the current economic crisis.”
The National Union of Journalists pointed out the company reported pre-tax profits in almost every year of the two decades prior to the pandemic. The NUJ said it would fight the job cuts even though DC Thomson does not recognise the union, despite having a “sizeable” member base among employees.
“These are brutal cuts, and we will robustly defend the jobs of our members,” said Nick McGowan-Lowe, anorganiser at the NUJ’s Scottish office. “Our members are furious both with how the company has handled these redundancies, and because they are seeking to make £10m cuts across the business after paying out £24m in dividends to shareholders last year. The jobs of hard-working journalists should not be sacrificed to pay the price of extravagant shareholder profits.”