Underperforming UK publisher Trinity Mirror is axing hundreds of jobs and selling assets to cut costs by £25 million ($40.3m; €35.6m) a year.

Confirming recent speculation it would make mass redundancies [WAMN: 21-Jul-03], Britain’s biggest newspaper group announced 550 staff would be laid off. It also plans to sell its local newspaper unit in Northern Ireland, comprising the Belfast News, Donegal Democrat and Derry Journal.

The overhaul is the culmination of a six-month internal review ordered by new ceo Sly (Sylvia) Bailey [WAMN: 25-Feb-03]. The Trinity chief said the restructuring would create a “stronger and better performing company.”

Continued Bailey: “My vision for Trinity Mirror is to unlock its hidden potential for growth. The actions I am putting in place will transform our business so that its value as a whole is undeniably more than the sum of the parts.”

TM also revealed it would change the editorial tone of flagship national title The Mirror, officially dropping editor Piers Morgan’s unsuccessful attempts to sell ‘serious’ news to British tabloid-readers. Adopted after September 11, the new direction failed to halt a sales decline.

The title will now devote itself to what Bailey calls “seriously good popular journalism” after the group found that tabloid readers like their papers to contain “fun” alongside hard news.

Details of the review emerged as the group posted results for the first half. It reported a 2.6% year-on-year rise in profits to £80.4m.

Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff