The Evening Standard has confirmed that it made a £1m “trading profit” in the year to 30 September.
The figure means that owners the Lebedevs have achieved their stated aim of taking the paper into profit within three years of taking it free.
The profit figure is before exceptional items and means that the paper is now broadly self-financing.
According to managing director Andrew Mullins, the Lebedevs do not expect to recoup their substantial capital investment in the paper.
When they took it over the title had a paid-for circulation of 100,000 a day. Six months after acquiring it they took it free and it now has a free daily circulation of 700,000.
Mullins told Press Gazette that the main hope now for increasing the Evening Standard’s profitability was by winning the local TV franchise for London.
He said that the main reason for the Standard’s success as a free title was the convenience the free model gave to the distribution process.
He said: “We knew that quality journalism provided conveniently to Londoners was attractive.
“If the Lebedevs had not bought the Standard it would have closed. In the six months after they bought it losses were running at £30m a year and climbing. We knew we had to change the whole business model.”
As a paid-for title the Standard generated circulation income revenue of around £12.5m a year. But the huge marketing and distribution associated with being paid-for are understood to have cancelled this out.
Read a longer interview with Andrew Mullins in this week’s Press Gazette – Journalism Weekly (subscribe here for free).