Smiths News new depot puts jobs in jeopardy

Almost 90 jobs are at risk by the opening of a new Smiths News depot in Birmingham,  The site, run by the Swindon-based wholesaler, is set to replace five regional hubs.
Smiths is proposing to move the newspaper and magazine activities of its Birmingham, Coventry and Redditch sites into a new, purpose-built facility in Elmdon in Birmingham from 5 March 2012.

But the Coventry and Redditch sites will close with the 88 workers competing for 50 vacancies at the new 55,000 sq ft distribution centre, which will employ 145 staff.

Employees based at the Birmingham depots will be transferred to the new site, the company said.

“We are making every effort to minimise the impact of the changes, and where possible redeploy employees within Smiths News,” a spokesman said.

In its preliminary year-end results, the company said the move was part of its target to make at least £10m of savings over the next two years.

Smiths News said that along with its decision to consolidate its operations in Birmingham, its recent organisation review identified a further £3m of central savings.

Pre-tax profits increased to £38.6m for the year ended 31 August 2011, as the company cut costs of £22m.

The wholesaler of newspapers, magazines and books also said it is looking to acquire “carefully selected targets” in specialist distribution markets.

The new distribution centre will serve 2,000 retailers across Birmingham, Coventry and Redditch and distribute about 2.2 million newspapers and 1.1 million magazines a week.

Smith News operates from 53 distribution centres across England and Wales.