Standard Group, the publisher of Kenya’s second biggest newspaper, has eased out over 40 employees through early retirement. The media house is struggling with rising costs of operations against falling revenues and needs to trim its fat to avoid sinking further into the red.
The voluntary early retirement scheme announced last month is said to have attracted a large number of employees seeking to step out of Standard Centre, but the company, fearing depleting its talent, approved just over 40, according to someone familiar with its operations.
In a memo issued on 5th October 2023, the media house said it was offering an attractive package for employees willing to take up voluntary early retirement (VER).
“After careful consideration and in our ongoing efforts to adapt to changing business needs, we are pleased to announce the availability of a Voluntary Early Retirement package,” acting CEO, Mr Joe Munene, said. “The VER programme offers our employees a voluntary opportunity for employment separation with an attractive package.”
Barely a week after the offer, the HR department was overwhelmed by VER applications, prompting it to create a team to vet the applicants to make sure the exits do not destabilise the company’s media operations.
The company eventually decided to approve the departure of over 40 employees cutting across the departments of editorial, advertising and management. VER is expected to help Standard rid itself of what it believes is excess staff as it struggles to find its footing again in the media industry.
After the exit of VER takers, the company is said to be focusing on its redundancy plans through which it is expected to kick out more employees, especially journalists rendered less useful under its converged newsroom model.
Standard Group, which runs Kenya’s second biggest newspaper, has been swimming in red ink for the last three years. For the half-year ended 30th June 2023, the media house made a net loss of Ksh102.9 million, which is a significant improvement from a net loss of Ksh300 million in the same period in 2022. This offered hope for a return to profitability in the medium-term, from a Ksh1 billion loss for the full-year 2022. In 2021 it had a loss of Ksh22 million.