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Independent news retailers have given a ‘cautious’ thumbs up after the CMA cleared a proposal from News UK and DMG Media to combine their printing and primary distribution operations.

The new company is expected to go live in early June and will operate independently, with Darren Barker, currently managing director of Newsprinters, as CEO, and Julia Palmer-Poucher, currently group production director at DMG, as COO.

As part of the move, News UK’s three current Newsprinters sites in Broxbourne. Hertfordshire; Knowsley, Merseyside; and Eurocentral (Glasgow) will be maintained. DMG Media sites in Thurrock, Essex, and Dinnington, Sheffield, will close, although its Carn print site in Northern Ireland will remain unaffected by the joint venture.

Commenting, the Fed’s National President Muntazir Dipoti said: “Newspapers are extremely important to Fed members, which is why we adopted our Pro Print strategy and why we welcome any developments that ensures the sustainability of the printed word.

“This joint venture will do just that, as well as ensuring the continuation of a national network. We, therefore, welcome the CMA’s decision.  However, as the two publishers involved produce some of the UK’s biggest selling newspaper titles, we will be monitoring developments carefully to ensure there is no detrimental impact to our members’ businesses.”

Mr Dipoti added that between now and June, News UK and DMG Media must work with supply chain stakeholders on five key areas:

    1. Revisiting and resetting publisher cut off times into wholesaler depots and, in turn, making the National Distribution Monitor fit for purpose.
    2. Understanding current delivery shortcomings and the impact at retail, particularly when bunching at wholesale results in late deliveries.
    3. Ensuring that arrival times into retail satisfy their customers’ needs.
    4. Ensure home news delivery providers are clearly identified and this guaranteed sale is prioritised.
    5. Review and share their contingencies.

Announcing the go-ahead, News UK EVP chief operating officer David Dinsmore said: “Consolidating print operations is vital to retaining a national network of print and distribution logistics and, crucially, supporting the unique plural media landscape in the UK.  I’m delighted that the CMA has cleared the combination of our printing operations. This decision means that readers of all newspapers can expect to enjoy them for many years to come.”

DMG Media’s Julia Palmer-Poucher added: “The news industry has transformed and continues to change rapidly. We needed to make changes to our print capacity to underpin our commitment to our print titles and their readers. This was a difficult but necessary step to provide a sustainable future for our print operations. Whilst I am saddened that our sites will close, this decision ends a period of uncertainty and allows us to proceed. I look forward to working with Darren and the new leadership team in this exciting new phase for our industry.”

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