News UK, publisher of The Times and The Sun, has launched a print and logistics service for newspaper and magazine publishers – Newssolutions.
The aim is to make use the spare capacity at its existing printing plants and distribution operations.
Print sales have been falling. Nevertheless, said Mike Darcey, CEO of News UK: “We are in print for the long term – we believe it is pretty durable.
“With shrinking print circulation challenging publishers, we have identified the opportunity to collaborate and achieve the economies of scale that will ensure we all have a thriving and profitable future for the printed product.”
News UK delivers four million newspapers a night to 55,000 retail outlets and directly to more than 16,000 in the London area.
It already does a significant amount of work for other publishers. As well as its own titles, it prints The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Metro, and the Evening Standard.
It has some of the most modern newspaper presses in the industry, having invested £600m in 2007 in three sites: Broxbourne, Knowsley and Eurocentral near Glasgow. It opened its logistics support centre at Broxbourne in 2009.
News UK has brought Tracey Hart as commercial director of operations. She was recruited from The Daily Mail, where she was head of sales and marketing, and has extensive experience in providing revenue generating services to publishers – be that in print, distribution or other related services.
In August last year News UK signed a joint distribution deal with the Telegraph Media Group using Ceva network. Chris Taylor, chief operating officer at News UK, said at the time: “We are very pleased to be working in partnership with TMG on what we believe will be a platform to promote and expand our distribution services.”
He said today that this arrangement has saved some one million truck miles over the past year.
The delivery to home service currently operates inside the M25. It has just taken on deliveries for a number of other newspapers and is looking for more. One of the advantages of this service, said Tracey Hart, is that it not priced by weight like Royal Mail services.
Hart said News UK was looking at taking on franchisees to expand this service. In the future there might also be potential to extend the home delivery service to other cities, although there are no plans at the moment.
As well as print and distribution, Newssolutions offers a range of operations and technology services designed for the media sector, for example help desks and service desks.
The major wholesalers have been launching initiatives to improve the utilisation of their networks in the face of falling print volumes.
Smiths News recently launched “Pass my Parcel” – a same day parcel collection service with Amazon. And Menzies is now delivering betting slips to UK branches of Coral and Ladbrokes.
However, said COO Chris Taylor, the News UK strategy was to focus on the media sector, rather than looking outside to add volume.