A provisional liquidator has been appointed by the High Court to the publisher of four weekly newspapers that circulate in Co Wexford,.
The court was told the provisional liquidator Kieran Wallace will keep the Wexford Echo, Gorey Echo, New Ross Echo and the Enniscorthy Echo open in the hope that a buyer for the titles can be found.
The four titles, which are owned by Wexford Echo Limited, employ a total of 30 people involved in journalism, advertising and sales, sub editing, page production, finance and management.
Mr Wallace was appointed as provisional liquidator and granted certain powers yesterday evening by Mr Justice Paul Gilligan following an application by lawyers for the company.
The judge said he was satisfied to appoint Mr Wallace, an insolvency practitioner with KPMG, after being informed the company is insolvent and unable to pay its debts. The company, which is a member of the Landmark Media Group, owners of the Irish Examiner, which is not affected by this event, also operates its own website.
Its directors are Thomas Crosbie, Noel Wall, Daniel Francis Linehan, Thomas Joseph Murphy and Sean O’Keeffe. Seeking the appointment, Garvan Corkery for the company said the winding up order was being sought due to the decline of newspaper sales and advertising both globally and in Ireland.
This decline counsel said had caused trading difficulties for the sector generally and in particular the company. Counsel said the company had been loss-making and at the end of May had net liabilities of €834,000.
It had been dependent on the continued financial support of its affiliates in the Landmark Media Group to meet its liabilities. In light of its trading difficulties Landmark had decided not to support the company any longer.
As a result the company’s shareholders had passed a resolution that it be wound up and a provisional liquidator be appointed.
Mr Wallace, counsel said, would be able to preserve the saleability of the titles and could effect a rapid sale if the demand for such a transaction emerges. Any suspension of the publications, even temporary, could prejudice any possible sale of the titles, counsel added.
Counsel said the company provides sub-editing and page production services for two other titles in the Landmark Group, The Waterford News and Star and the Nationalist and Leinster Times.
The provisional liquidator would ensure that those services could also continue in the interim.
In a statement to staff from Landmark Media, the company said: “Despite significant cost reductions and sales initiatives, the Wexford Echo titles have continued to be lossmaking in recent years, with no realistic expectation of becoming profitable. Approximately 30 staff are affected. Wexford staff were briefed this evening.
“Other Landmark Regional titles are not affected by this liquidation.
“We expect that a number of production staff will be employed to carry out page production for the Nationalists and the Waterford News and Star.
“This will initially be a matter for the provisional liquidator who will also explore other options including the potential sale of the titles.”
Dan Linehan, regional director of Landmark Media said: “I would like to pay tribute to the hard work and commitment of staff at the Wexford Echo titles. They have been part of our group for many years and they have tried very hard to make the newspaper work.
“Regrettably the economic climate, declining circulation and being the second title in the very competitive Wexford market have resulted in this situation.”