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Amidst buyouts, Postmedia vacating prime Vancouver real estate

About 600 union employees work at the Vancouver papers, which are part of Postmedia’s Pacific Newspaper Group.

Postmedia Network Inc. is vacating two floors of prime real estate occupied by the Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province, as it prepares to part ways with 100 employees who have opted for a buyout to help the company save money amidst a challenging advertising market.

Colliers International is subleasing the 6th and 7th floors of 200 Granville Street, one of the most prominent addresses in the city that features "direct views of water and north shore mountains" and is branded with a Vancouver Province logo.

The real estate listing says the building is "also known as Granville Square or the Vancouver Sun and Province building … with 28 floors of top-quality office space, this Class A building, which was built in 1973, is still a distinctly recognizable building and features a beautifully landscaped plaza that is an integral part of Vancouver's waterfront landscape."

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The papers' newsrooms occupy the 5th and 8th floors, with advertising and circulation staff sandwiched in between. Those employees will be moved to other floors, said publisher Gordon Fisher.

"Finding space won't be a problem," he said, adding the company has long felt it has too much space in an expensive building and felt the time was right to downsize.

The newspaper chain – like others across North America – is struggling as print advertisers spend less. Postmedia announced a 14 per cent decline in print advertising last quarter as it posted a $14-million loss. It has aggressively cut costs by laying off employees and consolidating editing and page design in a central facility, cutting Sunday editions in some markets and selling real estate (including its Toronto headquarters, which is also home to the National Post).

The company said in July it wanted to cut $120-million out of its operating budget within three years, and revealed recently it had managed to cut $58-million so far.

About 600 union employees work at the Vancouver papers, which are part of Postmedia's Pacific Newspaper Group. Mr. Fisher said the company now expects to part ways with up to 100 employees through the buyout program, a number that was slightly higher than expected but is still not official.

"We're comfortable with that number," he said, adding the first wave will leave at the end of this week. "A large number of people stepped up."

The company reports its next quarterly earnings on July 3.

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