Iliffe Media, the family-owned publisher behind the Cambridge Independent, is to acquire 13 newspaper titles and their associated websites from Johnston Press.
The deal is subject to shareholder approval within Johnston Press and is expected to complete in mid-January 2017.
The purchase comprises the following titles: Lynn News, Fenland Citizen, Diss Express, Bury Free Press, Haverhill Echo, Newmarket Journal, Suffolk Free Press, Stamford Mercury, Rutland Times, Bourne Local, Grantham Journal, Spalding Guardian and Lincolnshire Free Press.
The printing of these titles will transfer to Iliffe Print in Cambridge immediately upon completion of the purchase.
Edward Iliffe, chief executive of Iliffe Media, said: “We are delighted to have acquired these well-respected local newspapers. Iliffe Media, with its long heritage as an independent family-run media business, firmly believes in the future of local newspaper publishing across all platforms. We’re looking forward to welcoming our new colleagues.
“We see the addition of these titles to be a natural extension and good geographical fit to the recently launched Cambridge Independent, a weekly printed and daily online publication serving the city of Cambridge. Iliffe’s commitment to the sector is further demonstrated by its desire to print its expanded portfolio of newspapers on its own press in Cambridge.”
Iliffe Media will operate the titles in two units based on their geography.
Ricky Allan, currently managing director of the Cambridge Independent, will take additional responsibility for the titles in Bury, Newmarket, Diss, Haverhill and Sudbury.
Richard Parkinson, a former regional managing director of Johnston Press, will be joining Iliffe Media in early January and will take up the new role of managing director (Midlands), responsible for the acquired titles in Kings Lynn, Wisbech, Spalding, Grantham, Stamford and Rutland.
Ashley Highfield, chief executive of Johnston Press plc, said: “I would like to thank the staff based at these titles for their hard work and loyalty over the years and we wish them well for a successful future.”
The Cambridge Independent was launched in September and an app for the title was recently launched on iOS and Android to supplement the website and weekly newspaper. Subscribers to the newspaper receive the app for free, along with membership of the Gourmet Society, giving money off meals out, cinema tickets, days out and more.
The Iliffe family’s publishing heritage is well established and it has been operating in Cambridge for decades.