Fairfax and News to share printing

Fairfax and News Corp are set to use each other’s print facilities, with Fairfax to close its printing plants in Beresfield, Newcastle and Ormiston in Brisbane.

Fairfax says all print produced for its Australian Community Media (ACM) division at Beresfield is being transitioned to its sites in Tamworth and North Richmond in NSW, while metro work will be transferred to News at its Chullora facility.

Fairfax print work produced at Ormiston will be transferred to News plants in Murrarie, Yandina, Warwick and Townsville in Qld, with some being moved over to Fairfax’s site in Tamworth.

Fairfax’s Metro papers currently produced at North Richmond – The Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review – will be now be printed by News at its Chullora print site. Fairfax offered no comment on the thorny question of who goes last, but already Fairfax metro papers often miss the previous night’s sporting action.

News Ltd has not yet released details of any of its new printing arrangements but ProPrint understands News will be using some of the Fairfax print sites.

Fairfax has told ProPrint around 120 permanent and casual staff will be impacted at the closing sites, with some to potentially be redeployed. It remains unclear how many employees from Beresfield and Ormiston will be kept. Consultation at the affected sites are starting today.

Fairfax says there will be no change to the availability of its newspapers. The company says publishing will not be affected by the deal, with there being be no material changes to newspapers or scheduling.

[Related: Fairfax to stop distribution in north Qld]

Following its announcement to the ASX, Fairfax’s shares increased by 3.9 per cent to 79.5 cents.

Greg Hywood, CEO and managing director of Fairfax says, “The printing arrangements make the production of newspapers more efficient for both publishers. These are landmark initiatives. They demonstrate a rational approach to the complex issues facing the industry.

“Better utilisation of existing print assets makes sense and will deliver economic benefits to Fairfax Media.

“Our decision to rationalist some printing assets reduces capital intensity. We expect the combination of the new arrangements and the changes to Fairfax’s printing network to result in an annualised full-year benefit of approximately $15m. The financial benefits are expected to begin towards the end of FY19 H1.

“The agreements deliver greater cost variabilisation, enabling us to produce newspapers well into the future.

“From today we are consulting with staff at our printing centres affected by the new arrangements. Fairfax is committed to providing comprehensive assistance and support and will meet our employment obligations.”

Fairfax says both companies will continue to explore further opportunities.

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