Stuff plans to sell or close around 28 of its smaller community and rural papers.
The decision could affect 60 jobs as the company works through plans for each of the titles and consultation with staff. Sinead Boucher, chief executive at Stuff, said, “Our strategy is focused on achieving a business model where digital revenue growth outweighs declines in print – so we can maintain a strong national footprint to serve our New Zealand communities with our quality journalism, content and great experiences.
“The Stuff business is delivering strong digital revenue growth, benefiting from the growth of our new business ventures. This is providing some offset to ongoing print advertising challenges, however we need to continue to act decisively in transitioning our business model into an increasingly digital business.”
The closures will take place over about six months, before the end of the company’s financial year. The newspapers comprise around 35 per cent of Stuff’s printed material with the Kaikoura Star the only paid title. Boucher added, “We appreciate that this process creates a level of uncertainty for some people – and we will move as quickly as possible to provide them with clarity.”
Sam Gribben, spokesperson for union E Tu, says the union will consult with members before commenting on the decision.
Trans Tasman parent company Fairfax Media reported its net profit for the six months to the end of December fell by more than half to A$38.5 million (NZ$41m). In New Zealand, Stuff revenue dropped five per cent to $160m despite a 33 per cent growth in digital revenues. Operating profit fell 24 per cent, representing a 15 per cent fall after excluding the impact of the one-time items and investment in internet provider Stuff Fibre.
The affected newspapers:
NZ Dairy Farmer
Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook
South Canterbury Herald
North Waikato News
Central District Farmer
Otago Southland Farmer