Metro aims for million with two new editions

Metro will launch in Bath, Bristol, Derby, Leicester and Nottingham

Associated Newspapers’ free morning paper Metro is to push its distribution above a million by expanding into five new cities.

The newspaper is going to be made available in Bristol, Bath, Leicester, Derby and Nottingham by the end of May, dividing the cities into two regionalised editions – one for the East Midlands and one for Bristol and Bath.

Although there will be some local content, mostly involving entertainment listings, according to Associated, the papers will be 95 per cent the same as the Metro titles distributed elsewhere in the UK.

Only a handful of new journalism jobs are going to be created by the launches.

Metro circulation currently totals 890,000 – the Bristol and Bath edition is likely to add 30,000, with another 60,000 to be distributed in the East Midlands.

The paper is most popular in London, where every day 450,000 commuters pick it up from tube and railway stations.

It is distributed outside London through a system of franchise arrangements with regional newspaper companies.

Associated Newspapers supplies the national news copy and sells display advertising on a national basis. The regional franchisees get a cut of the advertising sale and in return print and distribute the paper and sell local classified ads.

Associated’s current franchise arrangements are with Trinity Mirror in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Newcastle; with Guardian Media Group in Manchester; and with Johnston Press in Leeds and Sheffield.

The new franchise deals will be with Associated Newspapers’ own regional news subsidiary, Northcliffe.

As with the existing Metro sites, the paper will be given away free on buses and trains between 6am and 9am.

Metro UK executive director Doug Read said: “Where we are going would be numbers one and two on the natural places for us to go next. They are urban city centres with the right audience for Metro.”

The newspaper has attracted growing young readership since it was launched in 1999 as a 20-minute read for commuters.

Read said the launches would have only a minimal impact on sales of Northcliffe’s paid-for evening papers such as the Bristol Evening Post, Leicester Mercury and Nottingham Evening Post.

Metro International, the Swedish company that came up with the Metro free newspaper idea, this week launched its 30th edition in Toulouse.

It brings Metro’s daily circulation in France to 470,000. Metro claims a worldwide readership of 13 million.

Although it does not publish anything in England, Metro International’s head office is in London and there has been speculation it will be involved in Richard Desmond’s launch of a free London paper.

By Dominic Ponsford

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