Future of Yorkshire Evening Post secured after sale of Johnston Press

The future of the Yorkshire Evening Post has been secured after its parent company Johnston Press was bought out
The future of the Yorkshire Evening Post has been secured after its parent company Johnston Press was bought out
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The future of the Yorkshire Evening Post has been secured after its parent company Johnston Press was bought out by its creditors in a deal that will save jobs and the future of the newspaper.

The news was greeted with relief across Yorkshire after Johnston Press was put into administration late on Friday night. A rescue deal was quickly wrapped up on Saturday and a newly formed parent company JPIMedia has promised to inject £35m of new money into the business and reduce its net debt level by £135m.

The Yorkshire Evening Post's editor Hannah Thaxter said: “I want to assure readers and advertisers that this not only means business as usual for your Yorkshire Evening Post website and newspaper but means our parent company is no longer servicing a huge debt and puts us on a much more sustainable and secure footing.

"Local journalism like that provided by the YEP is a vital part of the local community. I don’t pretend these are easy times for newspapers - in print or online.

"But we’ve been reporting your stories, campaigning, informing and entertaining for over 120 years and we plan to continue doing so.

"Your support, as readers and advertisers will help us to continue to do so for years to come.”

Loyal readers were left in dismay on Saturday before the deal was secured and many rushed out to buy the paper in a show of support.

JPIMedia said the acquisition of Johnston Press will secure jobs and the future of its brands and titles.

"JPIMedia's shareholders recognise the vital role that local and regional media plays in the communities they serve and remain committed to protecting and enhancing the value of the business in the future," it added.

As a result of the sale, an assessment period has been triggered for the employees on the defined-benefit pension scheme.JPIMedia said it will offer a defined contribution pension scheme to all employees.

David King, the publisher's former chief executive, will retain his position at JPIMedia.

He said the sale will ensure "operations can continue as normal, with employees' rights maintained, suppliers paid, and newspapers printed".

"We will focus on ensuring the group's titles continue to publish the high-quality journalism we are known for and which has never been more important," he added.

John Ensall, director of JPIMedia, said: "In the absence of another financial solution being available for the business, we are pleased to have reached this agreement to acquire Johnston Press, to protect the value of the business, preserve jobs and allow for the uninterrupted publication of its websites and newspapers.

"As part of this transaction we have reduced the level of net debt very significantly and invested £35m to put the business in a far stronger financial position.

"We look forward to working with the management team as they embark on the next chapter in Johnston Press's story in the media sector, with the resources to support local and national journalism and embrace the digital future."

One of Britain's biggest publishers, Johnston Press had more than 200 titles in print and online, including the Yorkshire Post, the i and The Scotsman.

Speculation the publisher might be sold had been growing since it announced a strategic review in March 2017.

The company had been looking to refinance £220m of debt due to be repaid in June next year. Mr King said that, at its peak, the company's debt reached £793m.

Employees were told on Saturday they would continue to be paid and should turn up to work as normal as their contracts are transferred to the new company.