Up to 89 jobs will go as INM winds down its Belfast city centre printing operation
Independent News and Media Limited (INM), which is part of INM PLC, last night announced it was closing its printing operation in Belfast.
However, the company stressed it would not affect INM's extensive news publishing division in Belfast, whose award-winning titles including the Belfast Telegraph, the Sunday Life and the Sunday World will continue to be produced as normal. The continuing decline in print volumes worldwide along with the ending of a key third party contract with a UK publisher in Belfast are being blamed for the closure, which could mean the loss of up to 89 jobs.
Last night INM chief executive Robert Pitt said the welfare of its workers was a priority. "Up to 89 jobs in the print works are at risk and we will enter into consultations with staff and their trade union representatives.
"The staff at Royal Avenue have given years, and in some cases generations, of service so this is a sad day for them and their families.
"The decision was not taken lightly, however the plant is no longer viable."
Discussions will now take place with the remaining publishers to find alternative arrangements for the printing of their papers before the Belfast print operation ceases, at the latest, in June 2016.
In time the closure will also see the company move from its offices in Royal Avenue to new premises in the city.
Mr Pitt added: "This does not affect the future of our publishing businesses, the Belfast Telegraph, the Sunday Life and the Sunday World.
"It will mean that the publishing business will move to new offices in Belfast.
"The closure of the print operation reflects the wider global trend in declining newspaper circulations, and the rise of consumption via digital channels.
"INM remain committed to their long-term strategy of multi-platform news delivery in Northern Ireland."
INM managing director in Northern Ireland Richard McClean said: "INM is strongly committed to the future of its market-leading publishing business in Belfast. The Belfast Telegraph recently swept the board at the IPR NI media awards, winning a record 10 awards including Daily Newspaper of the Year, while Sunday Life was named Newspaper of the Year.
"In addition, the Belfast Telegraph's website was named Digital News Platform of the Year.
"Our agenda-setting journalism across print and online is widely recognised as outstanding and we will continue to provide and grow our quality news delivery for readers and our online audience.
"Over the next few months we will be further investing in our content with a range of exciting initiatives. The Belfast Telegraph and its sister titles have always been at the heart of life in Belfast and Northern Ireland and we will continue to be so."