Weekly papers are being launched in Bexley and Sevenoaks, adding yet further to Kent’s uniquely competitive local newspaper market.
The new papers are editions of Kent Messenger Group’s Extra series, which already covers the rest of the county, and they will bring its total circulation to 592,000. Twenty jobs are being created, 11 of which will be journalists.
In Bexley, the new paper will go up against the Newsquest-owned Bexley News Shopper (distribution 131,825) and Archant’s Bexley/Dartford/ Gravesend Express series (circulation 137,494).
The Bexley Extra launches on 4 May with a seven-strong editorial team and will be delivered to 70,000 households out of the borough’s 95,000 total.
The Sevenoaks Extra was launched on Wednesday with an editorial team of four and a distribution of 17,000.
It will go up against the paid-for Sevenoaks Chronicle (circulation 15,620) and its free spin-off, Sevenoaks News in Focus, both of which are published by Northcliffe-owned Courier Newspapers.
KMG chief executive David Lewis said: “The investment in our news teams clearly demonstrates that these will be newspapers in the truest sense of the word.
“Although Bexley is considered a London borough, the majority of local residents still see themselves as Kentish and we are delighted to serve them with a free local newspaper focused purely on this rapidly developing area.
“The Sevenoaks Extra completes our countywide coverage. It is in response to the growth of the town and surrounding communities, and the demand for quality local news from local residents and businesses.”
KMG editorial director Simon Irwin said: “These papers will be very editorially driven – people would be hardpressed to tell the difference between these and a paid-for.”
In most regions of the UK, newspaper groups enjoy local press monopolies in their areas. But Kent maintains an unusually competitive newspaper market – Archant, Newsquest, Trinity Mirror, Northcliffe and Kent Messenger Group all publish titles, often in the same town.
By Dominic Ponsford