Ireland on Sunday relaunch success thrills Associated

IoS: sales rocketed from 40,000 to 175,000

Ireland on Sunday’s relaunch success has astonished even the newspaper sages at Associated Newspapers.

Selling just 40,000 full-price copies – plus around 10,000 bulks – before the change of format three weeks ago, the redesigned paper clocked up 115,000 sales in its first week, 140,000 in week two and 175,000 in week three. It has catapulted the paper into third place in the Irish sales league, with the Sunday Independent leading at 307,000 and the Sunday World at 296,000.

Mail on Sunday editor Peter Wright said: "Everyone at Associated Newspapers is delighted with the success of our team in Ireland. It’s remarkable to achieve such an increase in circulation so quickly and a credit to the quality of both the existing Irish team and the big names we have brought on board."

If IoS can sustain its sales figures, the business plan shows the lossmaker can make a profit.

Heavy promotion and a 50 cent price cut sparked the first two weeks’ interest but it was week three, with its twin exclusives with Ireland captain Roy Keane, after he was sent home from the World Cup, and team manager Mick McCarthy which helped the climb up the sales ladder.

IoS and Associated see the exclusives as an example of Irish/English journalistic co-operation, with Dublin setting up the Keane interview and the MoS’s Peter Fitton, who covers the player’s club side, Manchester United, writing the piece. IoS had already signed McCarthy to do its World Cup commentary. One insider said: "To put that 175,000 in the context of British sales, you would have to multiply it by a factor of 15 to compensate for the size of the country."

With journalists on secondment from the Daily Mail and MoS shortly to return after helping Ireland on Sunday bed into its new offices, editor-in-chief Martin Clarke and editor Paul Drury are looking for three top executives. One is an editor for the new 80-page TV Week magazine, currently overseen by former Mail hand Aileen Docherty.

IoS has already hired Eamon Dunphy and political editor Katie Hannon (Press Gazette, 24 May). It has also poached award-winning novelist Martina Devlin from the Irish Independent to write a women’s column and Gail Killilea from the Sunday Independent to work with diary editor Dermot Hayes on a double-size diary.

Staff defections are said to have caused some consternation at the Independent News & Media -owned Independents, where there is talk of loyalty bonuses and share options to stop the drain.

The Irish Independent has launched Day and Night magazine, which comes out on Wednesdays, and there have been some sharp diary references to Associated as "Saxon Overlords". Most Irish journalists welcome the growth in jobs – IoS hired a dozen staff and contract people for the relaunch.

The 96-page IoS has a completely different lay-down from its MoS sister, with separate advertising. Irish editions of UK papers must carry 80 per cent of the adverts from the English nationals in to count for ABC purposes. IoS believes it will have more chance of making money with Irish advertising.

 

Jean Morgan

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