Update: Jobs at risk under plan to close John Menzies distribution depot in Ipswich

AROUND 100 workers based at a newspaper and magazine distribution centre in Suffolk face an uncertain future under plans by its owner to review its network of depots.

The John Menzies group has begun a consultation with staff based at its Ipswich site over proposed changes to its network in the South East of England which would see the depot on the Ransomes Europark close.

Terry Dunning, network operating manger at Menzies Distribution, said: “We are always looking carefully at our operation so we can ensure our business remains sustainable and as a result we have identified possible changes to our network.

“We will now be looking at this proposal in more detail to establish its feasibility,” he added.

Menzies Distribution has more than 4,000 employees, currently operating from 19 “hub” and 23 “spoke” branches across the UK and Ireland.

In an announcement to the trade today, Menzies Distribution said that several proposals were being considered for its network in the South East, one of which involved the conversion of its Chelmsford “spoke” into “a fully composite hub branch”.

Under this option, the Ipswich branch would close, with all functions transferring to the new Chelmsford hub, and the Norwich branch would become a newspapers-only spoke, with magazine packing and back office functions moving to Chelmsford.

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“The idea is only a proposal at this stage,” the statement added. “We will provide more information about the status of the proposal in due course.”

Don Williamson, circulation director at Archant Anglia, whose titles the EADT and Ipswich Star are distributed by Menzies, said: “Archant can assure readers and newsagents that the delivery of their favourite local titles will not be affected.”

Menzies Distribution distributes around 5.2million newspapers and 2.6million magazines a day to more than 25,000 retailers, representing around 43% of the newspaper and magazine wholesale distribution market in the UK. As well as delivering publications, it also collects retailers’ unsold copies and arrange recycling.

The distribution division also includes a marketing services arm while the John Menzies group also includes Menzies Aviation, the world’s second largest aviation services business, which provides airlines with ticketing, check-in and baggage services for passengers and handling and forwarding services cargo.

John Menzies reported an underlying pre-tax profit of �56.4m for last year, on turnover of �2.014billion. The distribution division contributed an operating profit of �28.8m on turnover of �1.337bn.

The group traces its history back to 1833 when John Menzies opened a bookshop in Princes Street, Edinburgh. The wholesale business began four years later when Menzies was appointed as Scottish agent for the monthly instalments of Charles Dicken’s novel The Pickwick Papers.