BUSINESS

Britain's Independent Newspaper To End Print Edition, Owner Says

02/12/2016 08:52 EST | Updated 02/12/2016 08:59 EST
ADRIAN DENNIS via Getty Images
Copies of the British newspaper 'The Independent' are arranged for a photograph in London on February 12, 2016. British newspaper The Independent will become digital only, and its last print edition will come out on March 26, owners ESI Media said in a statement. / AFP / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON -- Britain's Independent newspaper will publish its last print edition next month as it makes a "historic transition'' to digital-only format, its owner said Friday.

ESI Media said The Independent's final paper edition will appear March 26. Sister paper the Independent on Sunday will end with the March 20 issue.

Owner Evgeny Lebedev said the Independent brand will continue online.

"We faced a choice: manage the continued decline of print, or convert the digital foundation we've built into a sustainable, profitable future,'' he said in an email to staff.

Lebedev said there would be staff layoffs, but it was not immediately clear how many.

Another of the company's papers, the commuter-focused daily newspaper i, has been sold to regional newspaper publisher Johnston Press for 24 million pounds ($35 million).

The Independent was founded in 1986, and has employed high-profile journalists including Robert Fisk, Will Self and Helen Fielding, creator of "Bridget Jones's Diary.''

Like other papers The Independent has seen its print circulation plummet with the rise of digital media. It now distributes fewer than 60,000 copies a day, down from a high of more than 400,000.

Lebedev's ESI Media also owns London's Evening Standard newspaper, distributed free on weekdays.