Newsquest, the UK’s second-biggest regional newspaper group, has held takeover talks with Archant, owner of titles including the Ham & High in London and anti-Brexit paper the New European, as consolidation continues to sweep the industry.
However, the talks apparently ended in part due to reticence from Newsquest’s parent Gannett, the owner of USA Today and the largest newspaper proprietor in the US. Norwich-based Archant, which was co-founded by mustard magnates the Colman family in 1845, runs 120 newspaper titles and 80 magazines employing about 1,500 staff. According to industry sources, Archant is valued at up to £40m.
News of the talks emerged following the move last week by Newsquest, which publishes 200 titles including the Argus in Brighton, Northern Echo in Darlington and Glasgow’s Evening Times, to buy Carlisle-based newspaper publisher CN Group.
Total weekly regional newspaper circulation fell by half from 42m to 22m between 2009 and 2016 , with paid-for copies falling from 26m to 13.8m, according to Enders Analysis. Similarly, the national newspaper market has shrunk from selling 9.3m copies per day in 2009 to 5.2m last year.
Since 2008, almost £800m in ad spend has been stripped from national newspapers, from £1.54bn in 2008 to £757m last year. The impact is even more stark in regional newspapers, which have seen ad revenue fall from £2bn in 2008 to £723m last year, according to figures from Group M.