SPH cuts 10% of staff as My Paper and The New Paper merge

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has confirmed the merger of My Paper and The New Paper (TNP) to form a revamped TNP which will be distributed free. This will see staff reduction of up to 10% over two years through attrition, retirement, non-renewal of contracts, outplacement and retrenchment.

Rumours first emerged a week ago to which SPH did not respond to Marketing’s queries.  SPH has now issued a press statement saying it will work with the relevant unions to ensure that fair terms are given to affected staff and will extend to them the necessary help to support them in their transition. It added that the new TNP, which will combine the strengths of both products, will be available from December at existing distribution points including MRT stations and will continue to be available online.

Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of English/Malay/Tamil Media group, said: "The New Paper currently has daily average sales of more than 60,000 which means over 60,000 people are prepared to pay 70 cents each day for the paper. Merging TNP with My Paper, making it free and increasing its circulation to up to 300,000 copies, is a bold decision to serve our readers with a strong product and with revamped content. TNP has a long tradition of remaking itself to stay attuned to readers' interests and needs. That's part of its DNA. So now, we're making it new again, and planning a product that we believe both readers and advertisers will find appealing."

In view of the changing media landscape, SPH said it will be carrying out a right-sizing exercise across the Group to reduce operating costs.  According to the publisher this follows a “comprehensive review of its core media business” conducted over the last five months. The publishing giant said the review was aimed at addressing the evolving needs of advertising customers and delivering effective integrated solutions across various media platforms.

In September this year, SPH formed a new integrated marketing division (IMD) by combining the company’s print, digital, radio and out-of-home sales teams. To clients, it promised to deliver optimised advertising solutions using data analytics for better audience insights.

Alan Chan, CEO of SPH, said the group had to take a difficult decision on cost control measures to improve operational efficiency and will to innovate and invest in its media products to stay ahead and relevant.

Chan said: "We have done a comprehensive business review to strengthen our position in a tough economic and media environment. Market conditions will remain difficult with the continuing disruption of the media industry […] At the same time, we will grow our business adjacencies to diversify revenue streams and maximise stakeholder value."

Most recently SPH reported a 17.5 % dip in its profits for the year ended 31 August 2016 (FY2016). The results for the year included impairment charges of SG$28.4 million, which primarily related to the magazine business whose performance was “affected by unfavourable market conditions”, said SPH.

Group operating revenue of SG$1,124.3 million was SG$52.7 million or 4.5% lower than FY2015, as the economic slowdown and structural challenges continued to hurt the group’s core media business whose revenue slid by SG$68.3 million or 7.6% yoy. Against FY2015, advertisement revenue was down SG$61.5 million or 9.2%, while circulation revenue saw a dip of SG$5.3 million or 3.0%.