Torstar to sell printing plant in Vaughan, Ont.

TORONTO -- Torstar says 220 full-time employees and 65 part-time staff will be affected by a plan to sell its Toronto-area printing plant and outsource the work to Transcontinental, Canada's largest commercial printing company.

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The switch to Transcontinental is expected to begin in July and produce about $10 million of annual savings for Torstar, one of Canada's biggest newspaper companies.

Torstar is also looking for a buyer for its printing plant and land in Vaughan, just north of Toronto. Printing for Torstar's papers will still be done in Vaughan at Transcontinental's plant.

Torstar's flagship Toronto Star newspaper -- which has long had Canada's largest daily circulation -- has begun negotiating with its unions towards a transition.

"Transcontinental Printing has newer, more modern presses and this decision will result in our very loyal print readers and subscribers receiving a high-quality print product with enhanced reproduction," Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank said in a statement Friday.

"This is an important step for the Toronto Star, but unfortunately it also means we will be saying goodbye to our long-time Vaughan printing plant employees."

The newspaper's parent company, Torstar Corp. (TSX:TS.B), says it expects to record about $22 million in restructuring charges this year.

The global newspaper industry's transition away from print towards online publishing has been accelerating after years of more gradual change.

The Toronto Star, for instance, has begun to produce a daily tablet-based publication called Star Touch that's modelled after a similar platform pioneered by Montreal-based La Presse, which stopped printing weekday editions at the end of December.

Transcontinental, for its part, is both a newspaper and flyer printer as well as a newspaper publisher that has also been adapting to changing market conditions resulting from the switch to digital media.

The president of its printing and packaging division, Brian Reid, said in a separate statement from Montreal that the Torstar deal is very positive for both parties.

"This agreement further demonstrates the ongoing interest in our ability to help publishers across Canada become more efficient. This contract will also enable TC Transcontinental Printing to further optimize its capacity utilization at Transcontinental Vaughan."


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