SPH brings forward 10% staff reduction plan, over 200 jobs affected

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has unveiled plans to complete its full 10% staff reduction by the end of this year. Previously, the job cuts were slated to conclude in 2018. According to The Business Times, the job cuts affect 230 jobs, where 130 will be retrenchments.

The remaining headcount reduction will come from retirements, terminated contracts and roles eliminated as a result of restructuring work processes. This will result in a wage bill that may decline 8-9% as a result, the BT report added. Marketing has reached out to SPH for comment.

Ng Yat Chung, CEO of SPH, added in a press statement that the company is expected to incur retrenchment costs of approximately SG$13 million in the current quarter. This includes restructuring the newsrooms and sales operations, reducing 15% of staff in core media divisions. The company had a headcount of 4,410 at the end of August, a TODAY report said.

“To deal with the disruption to our core media business, we will step up our investments to enhance our capabilities in digital, data analytics, radio broadcasts, video and content marketing. These will enable us to seek new growth and better meet the changing needs of our readers, subscribers and clients,” Ng said.

Ng added that there were no plans to discontinue any newspapers in the company’s print portfolio, TODAY reported.

Read also: SPH tipped to make job cuts, industry players mull its future

The job cuts were revealed following SPH’s report of its results for the financial year which saw a 13% yoy drop or SG$108.8 million in revenue for its media business. Advertising revenue was down 16.9% or SG$102.5 million, while circulation revenue saw 5.1% dip, or SG$8.7 million, when compared to the year before. This was for the financial year ending 31 August 2017 (FY-2017).

Group recurring earnings excluding impairment charges declining 20.2% yoy at SG$67.5 million. Group operating revenue was also down 16.9% or SG$91.8 million when compared with FY-2016 due to disruption to the media industry.

Results for the year were boosted by a gain of SG$149.7 million from partial divestment of SPH’s stake in the regional online classifieds business, and a fair value gain on investment properties of SG$57.4 million. However, these gains were partially offset by charges of SG$96 million which included impairment of the magazine business amid unfavourable market conditions.

This also included write-down of printing presses due to consolidation of printing capacity, and write-down of investments in associates to realisable value. According to SPH, the effect of these items was a net gain of SG$127.6 million compared to the previous financial year.

The company’s property segment continued to deliver steady results as revenue increase 1.2% yoy or SG$2.8 million. This was boosted by higher rental income from the group’s retail assets.  SPH’s revenue from its other businesses also grew 28.9% or SG$14.1 million when compared to the year before. This was attributed mainly to income from its newly acquired healthcare business. Total costs fell 4.1% yoy or SG$33.6 million excluding impairment charges and investment income of SG$53.9 million was higher by SG$2.1 million or 4.1% against the previous year, the statement added.

News of the job cuts first emerged following a Bloomberg report that SPH was tipped to be cutting jobs as part of an organisational restructure. When asked by Marketing about the news, a spokesperson from SPH declined to comment. In a statement to Bloomberg, SPH said it does not comment “on market rumors”.

Read also: How SPH can pull itself out of the revenue trenches

The move also follows the appointment of Ng executive director and CEO in July this year. This came after Alan Chan Heng Loon retired from the company in September after 15 years. Meanwhile, deputy CEO Patrick Daniel also retired and step down, while Anthony Tan remained as deputy CEO taking charge of both the English, Malay and Tamil Media Group and the Chinese Media Group, amongst other responsibilities.

In October 2016, the company made the move to merge My Paper and The New Paper (TNP) to form a revamped TNP which will be distributed free. Plans for staff reduction of up to 10% over two years were also revealed following the merger.