The future of CTN chain Northcliffe Retail is uncertain following the announcement that parent company Daily Mail & General Trust is selling its Northcliffe Newspapers division.
Potential bidders for the newspapers include publishers Trinity Mirror, Newsquest and Johnston Press, but none of these would be interested in a retail chain.
The store estate comprises 66 owned outlets in Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire, which trade as Mercury News Shops, Post News Shops and Telegraph News Shops.
It also has 190 licensed and franchised stores
around the UK under Northcliffe Retail’s Partnership Division.
“DMGT is selling everything as one unit,” said a spokesman for the company, who confirmed that the sale was being handled by financial advisor Greenhill & Co. The deal would therefore include regional newspapers Leicester Mercury, Nottingham Evening Post and Derby Evening Telegraph, which occupy a total of 30% of space in Northcliffe Retail stores.
But DMGT has not ruled out selling off individual stores to retailers who make approaches. Stars News Shops and Newsplus Group, both of which are members of The Grocer Top 50 league of independent retailers, told The Grocer that they were interested in potential sites.
Steve Carroll, finance director for Newsplus Group, said he would be speaking with Greenhill & Co about the details of what was on offer.
The combined estate claims an annual turnover of £45m and all shops are EPoS-driven. It also operates franchise and sub-post offices. It employs 500 sales staff and 1,500 home news delivery personnel.
Northcliffe Newspaper Group’s retail division was formed in 1978, when it traded as a division of the Leicester Mercury Group. But it became Northcliffe Retail Limited in April 1997.
Rod Addy