Standard hit as London Lite claims 387,000 pick up

Associated Newspapers claims it is
already within 13,000 copies of hitting
its 400,000 distribution target for
London Lite.

And anecdotal evidence from vendors
of the paid-for Evening Standard suggests
that the launch of the two new London
free papers has already harmed its sales.

On Monday, News International’s
thelondonpaper launched with a print
run of 400,000 distributed by 700 merchandisers
in London’s zone one transport
area.

Associated’s London Lite
launched last Wednesday with the same
print run and a hand distribution force
of 560 — plus up to 190 Standard vendors
who double up.

Steve Auckland, head of Associated’s
free newspapers division, said that on
Tuesday over 387,000 copies of the
400,000 London Lite print run were
picked up by readers.

He suggested that London Lite is winning
the battle for advertisers.

He said: “Reading through what I’ve
been sent, one advertiser says ‘we preferred
the design of the London Lite to
thelondonpaper’. Another reads ‘our
clients have preferred the London Lite
by four to one against thelondonpaper’.”

Asked about whether the free afternoon
papers had affected the sales of
the Standard he said: “We’re putting out
800,000 copies between us it’s bound to
affect the sale a little bit.

Ian Clark, general manager of
thelondonpaper, said: “The main sort of
comments coming through [from advertisers]
were that the design of ours was
particularly modern and fresh and that
the Lite seemed more of the Standard
meets a red-top paper, whereas we are
more of a modern mid-market paper
with a Berliner-type design.

"The references
we’ve had are more towards The
Guardian in the look and feel of things.
But the way that the news is laid out is
snappier and a bit more vibrant than
the existing mids because they don’t
have the colour facilities that we do.

“We haven’t got figures yet, partly
because of the way the sheets have to be
filled in and manually pulled back. The
only figures I have heard are more anecdotal
from the Standard of it being 25
per cent down on the first day which
Guardian in the look and feel of things.
But the way that the news is laid out is
snappier and a bit more vibrant than
the existing mids because they don’t
have the colour facilities that we do.

“We haven’t got figures yet, partly
because of the way the sheets have to be
filled in and manually pulled back. The
only figures I have heard are more anecdotal
from the Standard of it being 25
per cent down on the first day which
I’m sure will be a huge disappointment
for them.”

Standard vendors around Blackfriars
train and tube station seemed to be feeling
the effect of the two new frees on
Tuesday evening.

Vendor Tim Robertson said sales in
his spot were down by 200 copies on
Monday.

Katherine Davies, who sells the
Standard on the north side of Blackfriars
Bridge, said: “London Lite
maybe knocked me back
by six copies, thelondonpaper
by about 20 copies but
that’s because they intimidate
on the street. Even
with the London Lite distributors
nearby they will
target customers and say
‘we’ve got this patch’. The
London Lite are courteous
with us, thelondonpaper are
dogmatic, standing where
they are even if it’s in the
way of customers coming
to you for a Standard.”

Outside Blackfriars train
station vendor Maran
Arnold showed Press
Gazette a large pile of
Evening Standards that she
had been selling for four
hours. She said she would
normally have sold twice
as many copies and expected
sales to get worse.

She said: “Why will
customers pay 50 pence when they can
get it for nothing?".

Initial impressions from readers of
the new papers have been mixed.

Account executive Charlotte
Manson said: “I prefer thelondonpaper to
the London Lite. It looks a lot better and
I much prefer the layout. I like the fact
that it has different sections for shopping,
reviews and nightlife. I probably
won’t buy the Standard again. I liked it
but I’d rather read thelondonpaper
because it’s free.”

Bus commuter Rob
Phillips said: “I’m not a big
fan of paying for newspapers
because I only read
them on my journey to
and from work. I just want
something brief and to the
point. Both of these new
papers are good for the way
home. I hate the Evening
Standard, I think it’s a very
dull paper. From what I’ve
seen the [two free papers]
have a lot more gossipy
stories as well. They’re
both very similar and after
the same market.”

Website associate editor
Mark Turner told Press
Gazette: “I quite like the
sport in thelondonpaper.
Tim Lovejoy did a column
the other day that gave a
totally different view to
what most people say. I quite like that. I
buy the Standard going home every day
usually but I think with the Lite as a
freebie it would actually stop me buying
the Standard now, especially as they’ve
put it up to 50p. Out of the two I’d definitely
go for thelondonpaper because it’s
got some quite quirky stories I like as
well as the main news.”

Commuter Jim Connor said: “I really
like the London Lite. I don’t think I will
be buying the Standard again when I
can get the Lite for free instead.”

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