BROXBOURNE, UK: Publisher News International, part of the News Corporation empire, has opened the world's biggest printing plant in Hertfordshire, just north of London.

The £650 million ($1.3bn; €845.9m) facility, which covers an area of 163,000 square metres - equivalent to twenty-three soccer pitches - will shortly take over printing of NI dailies The Times and The Sun, plus weekend titles The Sunday Times and News of the World.

The four titles, which between them account for some 37% of all UK newspaper readership,  are currently produced at Wapping in London's revitalised docklands area.  

In the 1980s, the then new state-of-the-art Wapping plant provoked pitched battles between police and print union members, whose traditional working practices were challenged in pursuit of efficiency.

The Broxbourne facility needs even fewer staff and around 400 workers are expected to lose their jobs when operations are moved there.

NI aims to expand its contract printing business and The Daily and Sunday Telegraph will also be produced at Broxbourne later this year, as will TheWall Street Journal Europe, now owned by NewsCorp.

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff