No more print Yellow Pages from 2018; company to retrench staff, focus on real estate

Global Yellow Pages said that they are no longer able to sustain the print directories as more users take to online platforms to search for information.
Global Yellow Pages said that they are no longer able to sustain the print directories as more users take to online platforms to search for information.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Global Yellow Pages (GYP) announced on Tuesday (Aug 1) that it will restructure to focus on real estate as its core business and cease publication of print directories from 2018.

Arising from the closure of the print directories and the restructure 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.

"It is with much regret that the revamp of the Search product offerings has affected our colleagues, some of whom have served with the company for many years," said Mr Stanley Tan, CEO and director of GYP. "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 which 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.

The affected print directories are: Yellow Pages, Yellow and White Pages Chinese, and White Pages Business Listings. Production is now underway for the last print edition and they 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.

Mainboard-listed GYP has been diversifying into the real estate business in recent years, with this segment being 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 underway to maximise its development potential.

In 2016, 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 2017.

Meanwhile, GYP's search business has been declining significantly year on year, prompting the company to decide to end 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 Pte Ltd (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 and a 10 per cent stake in Page Advisor Holdings (PAH), a company founded by online entrepreneur Fabian Lim. He 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 and benefit from their potential growth and success in the digital sphere, while it focuses on the real estate core business.

“With this painful but necessary revamp of our Yellow Pages business model and the group gaining increasing traction in property, we are building a business that is significantly more resilient,” said Mr Tan.

Shares of GYP were trading up 9.9 per cent to 16.6 Singapore cents at 1:20pm on Tuesday, after the announcement.