According to sources, staff at the plant were told last night that the operation is to be wound up in mid-December. At least 30 jobs are to go.
There are also fears the move could signal an intention by Johnston Press to reduce the number of titles being printed in Limerick.
At present, the Limerick Leader staff in O’Connell Street in the city produce three tabloid papers, the Limerick Leader on Monday and Wednesday mornings, the Limerick Chronicle on Tuesdays and two broadsheet papers, the county edition published on Wednesday afternoon and the city edition on Thursday afternoon.
The source said at present, the company is trying to get rid of six sub-editors and to have reporters editing their own copy and staff are concerned there may be some attempt to scale back the operation generally.
There was no one available to comment on the development from the Scottish-owned Johnston Press last night.
However, a statement on its website says it is due to issue an interim management statement today reporting on trading in the period to date during the year ending December 31.
Last month, Johnston Press Ireland Ltd filed accounts with the Companies’ Office which showed a pre-tax loss of €6m for last year. That compared with a pre-tax profit of €3.9m in 2008. The figures for the year to January 2, 2010, last show group revenues fell 17% from €36.9m to €30.6m.
Nonetheless, addressing its ‘going concern’ status, the directors said at the time they “believe that the company is well placed to manage its business risks successfully despite the current uncertain economic outlook”.
The Scottish-owned group’s titles include the Limerick Leader, the Kilkenny People, the Donegal Democrat, the Leinster Leader, the Longford Leader and the Tallaght Echo.