What future Dunfermline Press?

SPECULATION from Scotland on Sunday newspaper yesterday that ‘uncertainy’ surrounds the future of Dunfermline Press, following the death from bone cancer last week of its chief executive and majority shareholder, Deirdre Romanes, at the age of 60.

The group publishes more than 30 local newspapers in the UK and Ireland – most recently, three years ago, buying the 14 titles comprising Berkshire Regional Newspapers, from Trinity Mirror for £10 million.

In a page lead in its business section, SoS comments: “…there have been suggestions that the firm overstretched itself, buying titles in Scotland and Ireland at the top of the market.

“The firm’s most recent accounts, the year to the end of March 2009, show the firm had bank debt of £29.7 million, although most of this is repayable after five years. Nevertheless, the firm produced only £160,000 profits on a £25.3 million turnover, which turned into a £77,700 loss after tax. In 2008 the firm made a pre-tax loss of £1 million.”

SoS claims that smaller, privately-owned firms thought to be interested in buying Dunfermline Press include Alloa-based Forth Independent Newspapers, Peter Fowler, owner of a number of Scottish media firms, and Norwich-based Archant.