The London Evening Standard has furloughed a number of full-time employees, under the government-backed scheme announced last week by the chancellor Rishi Sunak to help companies struggling with the impact of coronavirus.
All other employees have had their pay reduced by 20 per cent for two months, down to a floor of £37,500, while publication of the award-winning and highly acclaimed weekly magazine ES will be suspended.
These measures, announced to staff in an email from the newspaper’s chief executive, Mike Soutar, are set to be in place until 31 May, as the title seeks to offset the sharp downturn in print advertising as a result of the pandemic.
“The Evening Standard’s principal source of revenue is print advertising, from where more than 80 per cent of its revenues flow,” Mr Soutar wrote in the email this morning. “Our advertising revenues have slowed dramatically despite heroic efforts from our sales teams and whilst we have been supported by a small core of important advertisers we, like many other media groups across the world with a large stake in print media, do not anticipate a meaningful recovery in our ad revenue pipeline over the next two months.”
The London Evening Standard was first published in 1827 and is currently edited by the former chancellor George Osborne and controlled by Evgeny Lebedev, also an investor in The Independent. Its most recent accounts recorded a pre-tax loss of £11.5m for the year ending September 2018, after a period of profitability that followed the move, in 2009, to a free-distribution model.