Postmedia Network Canada Corp. plans to outsource its classified advertising call centre in Calgary, laying off most of the 48 employees, the company said Monday.

The owner of the National Post and various other big-city newspapers, said the decision is part of its strategy to lower expenses and focus more on other priorities, which include its digital business.

Postmedia said its classified advertising will be managed through Media Sales Plus, a vendor based in Williamsville, N.Y.

The Canadian call centre will close in the spring or summer, Postmedia spokeswoman Phyllise Gelfand said in a telephone interview.

Digital focus continues 

Over the past month, the company has been posting job openings for digital staff members, as part of a plan to focus more on readers who use tablets or other digital platforms like mobile phones to read news.

Last week, Postmedia reported a first-quarter loss of $11.8-million, weakened by lower advertising revenues and soaring costs to rework its operations. The loss was deeper than the profit of $6.7 million reported a year earlier when the costs of reworking its operations were significantly lower.

Like most of the newspaper industry, Postmedia has been grappling with a years-long trend of readers and advertisers turning away from print publications to digital media, including websites.

To counter the decline, Postmedia began a three-year plan to dramatically change its business model by setting up digital pay walls for its websites, ending the publication of many Sunday newspapers and selling its headquarters in Toronto.

In November, the company outsourced the production of the Calgary Herald to TC Transcontinental Printing and said it would also outsource contracts for the production of both the Vancouver Sun and the Province.

Postmedia shares were 20 cents higher at $2.30 Monday afternoon at the Toronto Stock Exchange.