Tabloid Times fails to steal sales from Indy

The mini-Indy appears to have won the first round in its fight with the tabloid Times.

According to Independent editor Simon Kelner, the launch of a second “compact” broadsheet onto the market has had little effect on sales of his title.

Commenting on industry estimates that The Times was up 25,000 copies a day, he said: “The early indications are that The Times hasn’t eaten into our sales very much at all.

What we know for sure is the effect it’s had on our paper, which is minimal. As long as the effect on our paper is so small I’m quite happy for The Times to sell as many as it wants to sell – let a thousand flowers bloom.”

The Times has declined to reveal any details about sales since the tabloid version was launched. But industry sources claim the compact version is selling 50,000 copies a day, leading to an overall daily circulation gain of 25,000. This equates to a rise of about 4 per cent.

According to unconfirmed reports, The Times increased its tabloid print run from 80,000 to 150,000 last week.

The latest ABC figures are inconclusive because they cover the whole of November and the two-size Times has only been available since 26 November. But they provide little Christmas cheer so far for News International – with The Times down 9.1 per cent year-on-year.

The Independent, buoyed by the launch of its compact version at the beginning of October, was up 11.4 per cent on November 2002, making it, along with The Star, the only daily to record a year-on-year rise.

Independent News and Media chief executive Ivan Fallon said: “In market share terms we have reversed seven years of decline in seven weeks.”

Kelner added: “We are absolutely thrilled with the ABCs – since the compact started it’s pretty well exceeded all our expectations. The latest ABCs are confirmation of how both our editorial and circulation strategies have been successful.”

The compact Independent is currently available in half of the paper’s circulation area: the North West, Greater London and the Meridian Television region. It will be rolled out across the country in January.

Although it outsells the full-size version wherever it is available, Kelner maintains he has no plans to ditch the broadsheet format.

Newspaper sales traditionally fall in December, but Kelner said he expected The Independent to be up by about 8.5 per cent year-on-year throughout this month.

By Dominic Ponsford

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