The first meeting of Chinnen Das, the newly appointed CEO of Vijayanand Printers Limited, with the top editors and managers of the Vijaya Karnataka group has ended with firm goals being set for all three newspapers:
# to maintain a minimum 1.5 lakh circulation lead for Vijaya Karnataka over Praja Vani at all times, and to keep it No. 1 in all 27 districts;
# to make Vijay Times No. 2 in Bangalore while retaining its No. 1 position across the State; and
# to make Usha Kirana No. 2 in select markets.
VPL, which will be retained as a distinct legal entity by the Times Group with independent financials, aims to achieve a turnover of Rs 250 crore in the next two years, with profit projections in the region of Rs 30 crore.
The goals were enunciated through a power point presentation titled “VPL Integration—Employee Communication” made by Das, in the presence of Jyotirmayee Bose, director, human resources; Chandrashekhar Mukherjee, general manager, employee relations; and Sreenivasan, the HR head who will join Das in Bangalore to take care of VPL.
Insiders described the first meeting as “healthy” and “reassuring”, especially after Das reportedly promised the harried employees of all three newspapers that their jobs were not in danger, subject to “integrity”.
Das is reported to have promised VPL employees that the existing salary structure, pay benefits and service conditions would be maintained. And all employees and unit heads at all 10 printing centres will also be retained at current locations. Annual increments to VPL employees will be paid in August, with retrospective effect from April 2006.
Jaideep Bose, alias JoJo, the Bombay-based executive editor of The Times of India, currently on a visit to Bangalore, is slated to be introduced to the Vijay Times staff tomorrow.
Chinnen Das’s summit meeting began at 2.30 pm and went on for two hours. The staffers of the three papers met him and his team in three batches.
First, it was the turn of Vishweshwar Bhat, Ramanand Bhat and Venkat Narayana, the editors of the three papers. Then, the VK team of news editors, assistant editors and chief reporters went in, followed by a larger meeting with the VT staff, concluding with an interface with the UK team and the circulation and marketing teams.
Although it is too early to say, the first indications are that the Times Group intends to retain Usha Kirana. But an editor for VT has still has not been firmed up although several names, many of them self-floated, are doing the rounds.