Editorial staff to work from home or move to Clydebank
By Bill Heaney
Veteran journalist Hamish Mackay reports in today’s Scottish Review that these are strange times indeed for the editorial staff of Newsquest’s titles in Glasgow which come under the Newsquest (Herald & Times) Ltd banner.
All the journalists at The Herald, Glasgow Times, the Herald on Sunday, The National, Sunday National and the Scottish Farmer magazine are now effectively homeless (well, to be strictly accurate: officeless) after the company, already under heavy pressure from declining income before COVID-19 savaged advertising and circulation revenues, has quit its HQ in Renfield Street and is seeking new premises.
It had apparently been in lengthy negotiations with its previous landlord to reduce the £1.17 million annual rental as it sought to cut costs. But no deal was struck. Fortuitously, all the editorial staff are working from home because of the pandemic.
The 53,330 sq ft glass-fronted office in Renfield Street, which had 82 parking spaces, was bought in 2014 by Kames Capital’s Property Income Fund in a deal then reportedly worth £13.7 million.
I understand that at the time of the rental discussions Newsquest (Herald and Times) Ltd had a lease for the full property until 2030. But crucially, I gather, it came with a break point which could be triggered this year.
Senior Newsquest management had previously scouted out alternative hubs for some of its staff, including the journalists on the national titles.
In a statement to staff, managing director, Graham Morrison, had said: ‘I have called a halt to our protracted negotiations with the landlord for the extension of the lease for our Renfield Street property which expires in May, 2020.
Having taken cognisance of the situation, and the on-going issues we have faced during the negotiations with the landlord, I have concluded that the terms on offer are no longer value for money, and in the meantime that we will fully utilise the available space that we have in both Cambuslang (Print Centre) and Clydebank’.
He added: ‘Whilst this is most definitely the right decision, I am still absolutely committed to having a significant presence in the city. We are actively seeking alternative premises in Glasgow and have already identified various options with commercial property partners’.