Guardian Media Group is the latest to throw its hat into the ring
in the bidding for Regional Independent Media.
GMG, owner of the Manchester Evening News, has applied to the Department
of Trade and Industry for consent to acquire RIM should it make a
The DTI is considering proposed bids by Gannett - the US owner of
Newsquest - and Johnston Press.
RIM, headed by chief executive Chris Oakley, represents the next most
attractive prize in the regional press consolidation game following
Newsquest’s recent acquisition of Newscom.
It is likely a successful bid from any of the three would lead to the
closure of RIM’s national sales operation.
The London-based team of 16 is headed by national and provincial sales
director Mark Soden.
GMG uses Amra to represent its Greater Manchester portfolio nationally
and would be a logical choice to take over the RIM titles.
Johnston Press uses Mediaforce for its national sales representation and
could accommodate the RIM papers.
Newsquest has its own national sales house and is in the process of
reorganising to assimilate the Newscom titles. Newscom’s national sales
house was closed although several of the staff have been rehired by
Newsquest’s classified and business development staff have been
relocated into Newscom’s London office. Newscom’s Manchester office has
been merged into Newsquest’s Manchester sales operation.
RIM’s flagship title is the Leeds-based Yorkshire Evening Post, which
sells around 100,000 copies.
It owns six other dailies in Lancashire and Yorkshire, including the
Yorkshire Post, The Star in Sheffield, the Lancashire Evening Post in
Preston and The Gazette in Blackpool. The RIM portfolio also includes
around 40 weeklies and freesheets.
RIM’s strength in North Lancashire and Yorkshire would compliment GMG’s
domination of the Greater Manchester area. Aside from the MEN, it owns a
collection of weeklies including the Stockport Times and the Rochdale
Observer as well as free morning paper the Manchester Metro News.
GMG must fear a successful Newsquest bid for RIM. The group is strong in
Lancashire, where it owns the Lancashire Evening Telegraph in Blackburn
and in Yorkshire where it owns the Bradford-based Telegraph & Argus.
Newsquest also has a presence in Cheshire.
The third bidder, Johnston Press, is strong in Yorkshire, where it has
three divisions and publishes two dailies - the Scarborough Evening News
and the Evening Courier in Halifax.
RIM’s strength in the North is attractive in developing a powerful
regional base for exploiting web ventures.