Morgan,left, says price cut got everyone talking: Yelland is "jubilant"
The price war between The Sun and the Daily Mirror has entered a new phase with the shock decision by the Mirror to return early in hostilities to its full price of 32p, except in selected areas.
It will now sell at 20p only in the London, Meridian, Central, West and South West regions and remain at 10p in Scotland.
At The Sun, where the announcement was seen as a climbdown, the atmosphere was "jubilant". Editor David Yelland said: "They’ve surrendered very, very early. We are considering our options."
The Mirror’s management, though, is adamant that this is part of its planned marketing strategy.
Mark Haysom, Trinity Mirror managing director, national titles, said: "Our plan has always been to divide the country in two after an initial national pricing burst. This enables us to focus our resources on key regions to get the maximum benefit for the longest time."
Mirror editor Piers Morgan said: "Everybody has read into what we have been doing far more than what we said. We’ve been unravelling a very long-term initiative. The price cut was not a short-term fix to save the sale. The strategy will take various guises and I know exactly how they will roll out.
"It was always intended we would have a four-week national burst to get everyone talking about it. There was some hysterical over-reaction by the national papers. The fact that other papers have followed us has insured that we have sold significantly more papers than we thought we would.
I would like to thank Mr Murdoch and our friends across the water for spending large amounts of money helping us. They don’t have a plan of action other than to follow us."
Haysom stressed the Mirror brand relaunch was the result of detailed analysis and planning. Part of the strategy was to use reduced price to build long-term purchase frequency and circulation, he said.
In the first phase of its relaunch, the paper shed its red masthead and reverted to the original name, unveiling new writers, sections and layouts. The Sunday Mirror launched a new magazine, M Celebs. This was followed by the national weekday price reduction last month.
The Daily Mirror’s estimated sale for May is 2,130,000 copies, a sales growth against April of 21,000 copies (up 1 per cent). With the sampling benefit removed from April, the growth is 49,000 copies (up 2.4 per cent).
The Monday to Friday sales figure is showing a 9 per cent sales lift compared with the period prior to relaunch. "We estimate this to be the best performance in the market," said the company.
The Sunday Mirror’s estimated sale for May is up 1 per cent month-on-month (excluding bulks); the Sunday People’s up 0.3 per cent and, with a fall of just 2 per cent year-on-year, the best annual change since January 1999.