The future of the Yorkshire Post has been secured after its parent company Johnston Press was bought out by its creditors in a deal that will save jobs and the future of the newspaper.
The news was greeted with relief across Yorkshire after Johnston Press was put into administration late on Friday night. A rescue deal was quickly wrapped up on Saturday and a newly formed parent company JPIMedia has promised to inject £35m of new money into the business and reduce its net debt level by £135m.
The Yorkshire Post's editor James Mitchinson said: "The messages of support and appreciation for the Yorkshire Post and the people that make it happen has been nothing short of moving. I’m seriously grateful. Thank you. By way of reassurance, we’re being told nothing changes and to crack on."
Loyal readers across Yorkshire were left in dismay on Saturday before the deal was secured and many rushed out to buy the paper in a show of support.
JPIMedia said the acquisition of Johnston Press will secure jobs and the future of its brands and titles.
"JPIMedia's shareholders recognise the vital role that local and regional media plays in the communities they serve and remain committed to protecting and enhancing the value of the business in the future," it added.
Dan Jarvis, the mayor of the Sheffield City Region and Labour MP for Barnsley Central, welcomed the news.
He said: “The Yorkshire Post is an institution – not just for Yorkshire and the wider North, but for the country.
"It fulfils a fundamental role in representing the voices of our communities and in holding the powerful to account. It informs and educates with its news coverage and shapes and leads important debates on politics, devolution, business and transport and is the most authoritative voice on sport, art, culture, food, farming and the countryside. In short, it is a force for good and as such it is essential that it continues on in its current form.
"For those who, like me, think this way, there is one thing above all else that you can do – get out and buy the paper.”
Rishi Sunak, the Conservative MP for Richmond, added: "I'm delighted to hear the YP’s future is bright.
"We are fortunate to have such a great local paper that combines national quality journalism with brilliant local relevance. Its voice will continue to be heard.”
As a result of the sale, an assessment period has been triggered for the employees on the defined-benefit pension scheme. JPIMedia said it will offer a defined contribution pension scheme to all employees.
David King, the publisher's former chief executive, will retain his position at JPIMedia.
He said the sale will ensure "operations can continue as normal, with employees' rights maintained, suppliers paid, and newspapers printed".
"We will focus on ensuring the group's titles continue to publish the high-quality journalism we are known for and which has never been more important," he added.
John Ensall, director of JPIMedia, said: "In the absence of another financial solution being available for the business, we are pleased to have reached this agreement to acquire Johnston Press, to protect the value of the business, preserve jobs and allow for the uninterrupted publication of its websites and newspapers.
"As part of this transaction we have reduced the level of net debt very significantly and invested £35m to put the business in a far stronger financial position.
"We look forward to working with the management team as they embark on the next chapter in Johnston Press's story in the media sector, with the resources to support local and national journalism and embrace the digital future."
One of Britain's biggest publishers, Johnston Press had more than 200 titles in print and online, including the i and The Scotsman.
Speculation the publisher might be sold had been growing since it announced a strategic review in March 2017.
The company had been looking to refinance £220m of debt due to be repaid in June next year. Mr King said that, at its peak, the company's debt reached £793m.
Employees were told on Saturday they would continue to be paid and should turn up to work as normal as their contractsare transferred to the new company.