Mirror-owner Reach cuts wages, furloughs 20% staff

(Reuters) - Daily Mirror-owner Reach Plc RCH.L will furlough 20% of staff, cut wages by 10% and management pay by 20% while keeping all of its regional and national titles operating in the coronavirus crisis, it said on Monday.

The company, which suspended bonus payments for 2020, had asked to defer payments to its pension funds and will no longer pay a final dividend for the 2019 financial year, it said.

Reach, which also owns Daily Star, Express and several other brands, has about 4,573 permanent employees across 58 locations, according to its latest annual report.

The British publisher's move follows similar actions by U.S. peer Gannett GCI.N, which last week suspended quarterly dividend payouts and implemented actions to reduce its workforce and furlough its employees as it warned of a revenue hit.

Shares in the London-listed firm have fallen nearly 40% so far this year compared with Gannett’s 87% collapse. Reach’s stock was down around 9% by 1020 GMT.

“These are very challenging times,” Chief Executive Officer Jim Mullen said.

“It remains difficult to predict the duration and long term impact of the crisis on our sector so it is key we take proactive measures now on cost to protect jobs and the Reach business for the long term”.

Last month, the company said it expected the pandemic to hurt its advertising, print circulation and events businesses because of lower traffic, adding that outlet closures and event delays or cancellations may be necessary.

Reach said it has taken several actions to conserve cash and has taken measures including renegotiations with suppliers, cancellation of orders and negotiated payment delays.

(This story corrects to Daily Star from Daily Mail in third paragraph).

Reporting by Patrick Graham and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Shailesh Kuber