The management of “Midi Libre” announces an “unavoidable” reduction in staff

The management of the regional daily Free lunch, headquartered in Montpellier, announced Thursday that a “downsizing” was “unavoidable” because of its “very degraded” economic situation, and that it favored the opening of a voluntary departure plan for 45 positions. “The crisis in our sector and the consequences it has on our economic model have been aggravated by two years of Covid-19 and the outbreak of war in Ukraine”, wrote the director general of Free lunchJean-Benoît Baylet, in an email sent to staff members following an extraordinary social and economic committee (CSE).

Over the past four years, revenues from broadcasting and advertising have fallen sharply, by eight million and two million euros respectively, specifies the boss of the daily, who says he expects “an additional drop in two million euros on broadcasting” in 2023.

Deficit of 1.6 million euros in 2022 before any non-operating income

The digital transition is “longer than expected” and the site’s revenues, of 3.6 million euros this year, only “stop the erosion of turnover, far from offsetting it in full” , also notes Jean-Benoît Baylet. At the same time, the increase in the price of paper (+135% in one year), energy (+190%) and even fuel increased the costs by 2.3 million euros for the daily newspaper.

“For the current year, our company will end with an economic result, before any non-operating income, in deficit of 1.6 million euros”. In 2023, the deficit should be 2.8 million euros, according to Jean-Benoît Baylet. To “restore the economic balance”, the management presented during the CSE a “global transformation project” providing in particular for an “ambitious plan for the development of digital revenues”.

Voluntary departure plan for 45 positions

“It also includes a significant reduction in our expenses. In addition to the optimization of our current expenses and our operating costs, a reduction in our workforce is unavoidable”, adds the managing director of Free lunch. “Several more or less constrained devices are possible. We favor the opening of a voluntary departure plan for 45 positions, all services combined, ”he also indicates, inviting staff representatives to begin discussions next week.

“The combination of these measures should enable Free lunch to return to a positive result from 2024”, concludes Jean-Benoît Baylet. After its takeover by the group The Midi Dispatch in 2015, Free lunch had approximately 150 tenured journalists.

source site