THE Mercury will move from its landmark headquarters in Macquarie St to Salamanca Square next year.
The switch will end the newspaper’s 157-year link to Macquarie St, where founder John Davies established the business in 1854.
And it will open up a massive new investment opportunity in the heart of the city, with the historic Mercury building going on the market.
The move would mean an exciting new phase for the media company Davies Brothers Pty Ltd and for the city, chief executive Rex Gardner said yesterday as he revealed the plans to staff.
“This will really send a message that our newspapers remain strong and vibrant partners in the Tasmanian community, as did the installation of our $30 million state-of-the-art Technopark printing complex at Dowsing Point.
“Any notion that media companies such as ours have an uncertain future or that there is not a bright future for business in this state should be dispatched by this move.
“This will give our staff an ultra-modern workplace at the heart of Hobart’s liveliest precinct and a brilliant new stage for our talented people to further develop a raft of new media products in the years ahead,” he said.
Mr Gardner said the company expected to move into the new HQ, which overlooks the main entrance to Salamanca Square, in August next year.
The announcement ends an exhaustive search for a new headquarters on behalf of the company by Hobart real estate broker Knight Frank.
The company assessed several potential office sites around the waterfront, including Macquarie No. 1 wharf, two upper floors of the ANZ tower opposite the post office, and two older buildings at Franklin Wharf.
The first floor of Salamanca Square, where Antarctic Adventure used to be, came out as a clear preference.
“The huge office space (around 2300 square metres) will see our operation fully integrated on one level providing much better interaction between departments,” Mr Gardner said.
“This will provide fantastic opportunities to change the way we go about our business. It will create a great opportunity for cultural change and a far better flow of information.
“Our current building clearly doesn’t fit our operation now, particularly since the print operation moved to the Technopark. It is becoming more and more expensive to maintain and improve in line with current requirements, so sadly we will be saying farewell to Macquarie St after well over 150 years,”
Print feels the heat
The latest print sales data, released last week by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, also shows a further decrease, with total Monday-to-Sunday newspaper circulation falling 3.9 per cent in the three months to the end of September. The drop was the 23rd consecutive quarterly fall and above the average 2-3 per cent decline of the past two years, Deutsche Bank analyst Andrew Anagnostellis said.
APN News & Media had the largest overall circulation decline of 5.5 per cent, the highest ever recorded, with News Limited down 4.2 per cent, Fairfax Media down 3.2 per cent and West Australian Newspapers down 1.1 per cent.
During the quarter, 22 papers began voluntarily reporting their average sales numbers for each day of the week, including News’s The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun and The Courier-Mail and APN’s entire stable of regional dailies.
(The panel accompanying the article revealed Mercury (M-F) down 9.9 per cent (year on year); Saturday Mercury down 6.2 per cent and Sunday Tasmanian down 8.4 per cent. There were no figures published for Examiner or Advocate. The only papers listed as growing were the AFR, AFR Weekend, Age (M-F) and Sunday Age; and Courier Mail)