News publisher INM seeks about 35 redundancies

Scandal-hit media group plans new round of cutbacks in 2019

Editorial cuts: INM titles on display at a company meeting in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Editorial cuts: INM titles on display at a company meeting in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

Independent News & Media (INM) is seeking about 35 redundancies, with the majority of the job losses expected to come from the editorial side of its operation.

The newspaper and website publisher is understood to have opened up a voluntary redundancy scheme with the expectation that about 25 journalists will leave the company as a result. A spokesman for INM declined to comment.

INM, which counts businessman Denis O’Brien as its largest shareholder, is the company behind the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, the Herald, Sunday World and Belfast Telegraph titles. It also has a 50 per cent holding in the Irish Daily Star.

The Dublin-headquartered media group has been in cutback mode for much of the past five years. In the first half of 2018, it incurred a restructuring charge of €1.3 million, primarily relating to redundancy costs, it said in its most recent trading statement.

Between 2014 and 2017, it recorded restructuring costs of more than €9 million as a result of several redundancy schemes, according to figures contained in its annual reports.

INM’s 2018 half-year update, issued in August, showed that total revenues were running down 4.1 per cent year-on-year. Digital revenues, earmarked as the engine of growth for the business in an era of print decline, were 2.9 per cent lower than they had been in the same period in 2017.

The company will publish its full-year results for 2018 in late March.

Legal costs

INM has also been hit with legal costs in recent times relating to an investigation by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) into a data breach at the company. High Court inspectors were subsequently appointed, while the Central Bank and the Data Protection Commission is also investigating potential issues.

Meanwhile, a replacement for the company’s chief financial officer Ryan Preston has not yet been appointed.

Mr Preston, due to step down at the end of this month by mutual consent, served under former chief executive Robert Pitt for much of his tenure at INM. When Mr Pitt made a whistleblower complaint to the ODCE about the alleged conduct of former chairman Leslie Buckley, Mr Preston made a similar protected internal disclosure that was supportive of Mr Pitt’s position.

INM’s chief executive since Mr Pitt’s departure is company veteran Michael Doorly. The company employed an average of 845 people in 2017.