Capital is tough on weekly titles

In the face of continued pressure across the regional newspaper industry the weekly market continues to be the most healthy part of the sector, with total sales of 4,817,073 – a year-on-year decline of 1.1 per cent.

London again proved to be a difficult market, with Archant’s Newham Recorder posting a 19.2 per cent drop to 14,050 – after suffering a 16.5 per cent drop in the previous six-monthly figures.

Newquest’s Richmond and Twickenham Times series lost 17.3 per cent year-on-year, with an average circulation of 11,073. The paper has been without a dedicated editor since June last year, when Paul Mortimer was made redundant.

Another Newsquest title, the Surrey Comet series, fell to a weekly average of 10,684, a loss of 11.8 per cent year-on-year. This figure was affected by the closure of the Wimbledon News edition in December 2006.

Andrew Parks, group editor of Newsquest’s South London division, which publishes the Times, was upbeat about his titles’ figures despite some big losses.

‘I have to say that I’m extremely pleased. Our [part-free] titles have all gone up, and the same can’t be said for some of our competitors.

‘The Richmond and Twickenham Times was previously the worst in London. We have some work to do but I’m pleased we’re not on the bottom spot.

‘With the Comet, if you take the Wimbledon News out the title’s sales [in the series] are rising.”

Parks added that he was considering appointing a new full-time editor to the Richmond and Twickenham title.

The Ealing Gazette, buoyed slightly by the launch of a Polish edition in July, was down 4.1 per cent year-on-year to 12,225.

News editor Sachin Nakrani said the figure was ‘not a major shock”, adding that the decline ‘was not as dramatic as it could be”.

In West Yorkshire the Wakefield Express fought off competition from three-month-old rival the Wakefield Guardian to post an increase of 0.8 per cent to 34,205.

A format change from broadsheet to tabloid in March was prompted by a readers’ poll which voted 91 per cent in favour of the reduction in size.

The paper’s Hemsworth and Elmsall edition, which changed from a free to paid-for in March 2006, notched up an impressive 27.9 per cent increase to 6,444.

Mark Bradley, group editor of Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group, said: ‘We are extremely pleased with the sales performance of the Wakefield Express since we changed format.

‘The team put together a fantastic package in a smaller format, keeping the intrinsic values and look of the Express while bringing it up to date with changes that included a new masthead.

‘All of this has given our news and sports stories, photographs and supplements a new lease of life.

‘The Hemsworth and South Elmsall Express has the UK’s third highest-growing weekly newspaper circulation. The results have been outstanding, and the 27.9 per cent increase has been achieved purely by the strength of the title, rather than by edition changes or other means.

‘Credit should go to a small but dedicated team based at our South Elmsall and Wakefield offices who have worked tirelessly to develop a fresh and readable newspaper.”

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