War on the waterfront as Archant launches in Docklands

Exclusive by Sarah Lagan

A newspaper war is about to break out in London’s Docklands with the
launch of a quality weekly in direct competition with Trinity Mirror’s
The Wharf.

The move by Archant London has been influenced by the riverside
development of new high-rise flats and stylish warehouse conversions.

Richard
Thompson, editorial director of Archant London, told Press Gazette: “To
be quite candid we are in direct competition with The Wharf but I think
we have a very different product in that it’s more tailored to the
market.

“The needs of the people there are not being met by the traditional newspapers in the area.

“The
people living in Newham borough and Tower Hamlets borough have very
different interests and demographics to the people living in the
Docklands high-rise flats. A lot of them have second homes and a large
disposable income. We felt there was a need for a publication that
mirrored their lifestyle.”

The 60-page free tabloid, The
Docklands, will be launched next Wednesday (18 January). It will be
distributed to 35,000 homes and commercial outlets stretching from
Wapping to London City Airport.

The four members of editorial
staff on the paper have joined from other Archant titles. They include
launch editor Amanda Patterson, who was previously editor of the
Barking and Dagenham Post. Former deputy editor of the Romford
Recorder, Barry Kirk, replaces Patterson at the Post.

Archant
London already owns the two paid-for titles covering Tower Hamlets and
Newham, the East London Advertiser and the Newham Recorder, but
Thompson insists there will be very little cross-over with the new
paper. He said: “Traditional parts of Tower Hamlets are a very
different environment to Canary Wharf and have an almost ethnic
majority. There is more traditional East London housing stock, but the
Docklands is chalk and cheese to the rest of Tower Hamlets. Our
paid-fors don’t have the right profiles to capture these readers.”

The
Docklands will include sections on food, drink and health. There is
little sport in Docklands but the paper will take coverage of some
Premiership games from existing Archant titles.

London has proved a difficult area in terms of local newspaper circulations compared to the rest of the country.

Thompson
is encouraged, however, by the recent Docklands developments and
because the area is likely to prosper in the run-up to the 2012 London
Olympics. The London Thames Gateway Development Corporation is also
planning new housing there.

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