Hyperlocal focus helps weekly newspaper for City of London thrive in home of UK journalism

New hyperlocal newspaper City Matters is set to increase its distribution by as many as 5,000 copies within the coming few months following a successful launch last year.

Commercial director Nick Chapman told Press Gazette that the title, which currently puts out about 15,000 free copies each week, is also close to breaking even after five months of publishing.

He said the next move was to expand distribution to include the fringe of the City of London but added this would be the limit of the paper’s reach, putting its success so far down to a strict Square Mile focus.

About six thousand copies are also delivered to select offices within the City.

“We are five months into launch now and we are very close to breaking even which is amazing,” said Chapman. “Most businesses within two years will still be loss-making. We are very pleased.”

He added: “Print is having a very tough time but we have bucked that trend by being hyperlocal. We are purely in a square mile, nothing more nothing less. You won’t see us outside that area – we aren’t interested in people in Barnes unless they work in the city.”

The title’s distribution area includes Fleet Street and St Pauls, the historic home of printing and newspapers in the UK.

Editor Tom Oxtoby said this focus provided a different proposition to businesses and potential advertisers looking to target the City.

“What we offer is a very acute title going to tens of thousands of office workers in the city who are going to be spending their money in the city,” he said.

“We are providing a wonderful platform for them to get their message out at a fraction of what it would cost in a bigger publication which has got a bigger reach but is taking their message away from the City.”

While a majority shareholder is providing enough financial support “to pay the bills” as the title finds its feet, free distribution means the business is reliant on advertising as its principal source of revenue.

Chapman told Press Gazette that without advertising support the paper would “crash and burn” but said it is very close to making a profit as it stands.

He added: “We have got the right audience and the right product and it’s going in the direction we want it to go in.”

The City Matters team is currently located in West Norwood, but is moving offices to near Tower Hill later this month to be closer to the City.

“We have got to be on the pulse,” said Oxtoby. “I wouldn’t really associate our area with having a local newspaper so we really need to be at the forefront of what’s going on.”

He added: “We are really proud of what we are doing. We have got a long way to go, but we will keep marching on and see where we are in six months time.”

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