Global Yellow Pages to axe print directories

For many years the Yellow Pages served as an important link between consumers and businesses. The company's declining search business has meant that this year will be the last that it will release printed editions of its iconic directories.
For many years the Yellow Pages served as an important link between consumers and businesses. The company's declining search business has meant that this year will be the last that it will release printed editions of its iconic directories.ST FILE PHOTO

Company to focus on real estate, restructure digital business, as people turn to online platforms

Global Yellow Pages (GYP) announced yesterday that it will restructure to focus on real estate as its core business, and cease publication of print directories from next year.

Arising from the print directory closure and the restructuring of the digital business, there will be retrenchments and the company is assisting employees affected by it, said GYP. It did not disclose how many staff members will lose their jobs.

Mr Stanley Tan, chief executive and director of GYP, said the company regrets very much that the revamp of the Search product offerings has affected colleagues, some of whom have been with the company for many years.

"However, due to evolving market trends as more users take to online platforms to search for information, we are no longer able to sustain the print directories that are iconic publications familiar to most Singaporeans."

He added that the company is working with the Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers' Union to render assistance to affected staff.

In response to a Straits Times question, a company spokesman said the retrenchment will affect staff across all departments.

"Our priority now is helping these affected staff find alternative employment through various initiatives such as e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) sessions. We have also requested Newco (Yellow Pages) to consider our staff for their hiring needs."

The affected print directories are: Yellow Pages, Yellow and White Pages Chinese, and White Pages Business Listings.

Production is now under way for the last print edition and the directories will be distributed to consumers later this year.

The digital products of Yellow Pages will continue to operate under a new company and print-only advertisers can shift to the online platforms.

GYP has been diversifying into the real estate business in recent years, with this segment the biggest contributor to group revenue and total assets since financial year 2016.

In 2015, GYP invested in Pakuranga Plaza, a shopping mall with development land on a 3.9ha freehold site in Auckland, New Zealand, with plans under way to maximise its development potential.

Last year, the group further invested in a plot of freehold land in Queenstown, New Zealand, and received permission from Queenstown Lakes District Council to construct 225 residential dwellings. It launched phase one of this residential project, Remarkables Residences, in June this year.

Meanwhile, GYP's search business has been declining significantly year on year, prompting the company to decide to stop publishing print directories and restructure its digital business.

GYP said that to meet consumers' gravitation towards online platforms, it had entered into a joint-venture agreement with a newly incorporated entity, Yellow Pages (YP), on July 31 to handle digital directories, data and online offerings.

GYP will have a 20 per cent stake in the new company and a 10 per cent stake in Page Advisor Holdings (PAH), a company founded by online entrepreneur Fabian Lim. Mr Lim and PAH will have a combined 45 per cent stake in YP.

GYP said its interest in YP and PAH allows the group to participate in and benefit from their potential growth and success in the digital sphere, while it focuses on its real estate business.

GYP shares yesterday ended 1.5 cents or 9.9 per cent higher at 16.6 cents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2017, with the headline 'Global Yellow Pages to axe print directories'. Print Edition | Subscribe