As London free business daily City A.M. celebrated its first birthday this week, its bosses said it was on course to move into profit this year, and they hinted that further launches outside London were now a possibility.
Editor David Parsley, who quit as business editor of the Daily Express to lead the new venture, said he believed the future of the business was now assured. He said: "Fifty per cent of small businesses die in the first year and after that they are pretty secure. So I think we are safe now."
The paper passed the 90,000-a-day distribution mark in the City and Canary Wharf this week. And according to chief executive Jens Torpe, the success of City A.M. proves beyond doubt that, despite competition from the internet, newsprint is far from dead.
Torpe launched City A.M. after spending five years as CEO of Metro International, the extraordinarily fastgrowing international free newspaper group which now claims 18.5 million readers in 21 countries around the world.
Seeing an explosion in free newspapers globally, Torpe's brainwave was to launch a free niche daily taking advantage of the uniquely compact geography of London's financial district.
And if the paper's latest online readership survey is to be believed, that brainwave appears to have paid off.
The survey, which involved a panel of 871 readers, claims that City A.M.
has one of the most enticing readerships to advertisers of any UK newspaper, with each one earning an average salary of £76,600.
Parsley said that he believes oneyear- old City A.M. has earned its journalistic as well as commercial spurs.
He said: "It was very clear from the beginning that it wasn't just going to be another Metro, lifting copy from another newspaper or lifting wire copy straight onto the page.
"People doubted whether we would be taken seriously as business journalists, but I'm pretty sure we've proved them wrong a year on."
He said the scoops which stand out include breaking news of a £23 billion bid for AB Ports and reporting that Credit Agricole was considering a bid for Alliance and Leicester.
Parsley said: "We broke AB Ports on a Monday and Today gave us credit for it in their first bulletin. With the Credit Agricole story, Alliance and Leicester shares went up by 17 per cent and even the FT rarely does that."
City A.M.'s late deadline (around 12.30am) means that it is uniquely positioned to include late-breaking news — including the close of the US markets and City scoops from the rest of the press.
Parsley said: "We got a bit of a slating from some quarters. But I sat on The Sunday Times for five years and watched the political hacks pick up The Mail on Sunday and nick their splash. Not only can you get our news, you get everyone else's."
Parsley claims that City A.M.'s specialist focus, and concise writing style, means it has more City and Canary Wharf stories than the FT. And he says that the late deadline makes it "as close to the internet as a newspaper can get".
Which makes it surprising perhaps that City A.M. does not yet have a comprehensive website. This is something which is going to be remedied next month and which proves — according to Torpe — the power of the printed word.
He said it was inconceivable that they would have done things the other way around — launching on the web first and then as a print edition.
He said: "We believe that newsprint is still very, very strong. The real way to mass market yourself and get a big reaction is still by newspaper."
He adds: "Some traditional newspapers think free newspapers want to kill their business — normally whatever business you are in, you want your total market to be as big as possible and then fight to get the biggest market share.
Some people are missing a trick here, some newspapers seem to want to fight it out for an ever smaller market."
When it is put to Torpe that City A.M. is a conveniently generic title, which could easily be rolled out to other locations — he does not rule out future expansion.
He said: "What Lawson [Muncaster, the paper's managing director] and I totally agreed upon when we launched was we'd wait until the London edition was profitable, we wouldn't waste our time with speculation about what we wanted to do.
"Expansion in the UK is possible, but would be very much demand led — we'll talk to advertisers about what they want and if they are willing to pay as much for readers in Edinburgh as down here in London."