ABCs: Can Alton give the Indy a needed shot in the arm?

Four years after The Independent went fully tabloid, the latest ABC sales figures show it is in need of a new gambit to again inject some sales growth.

And owner Tony O’Reilly will be hoping that the appointment of new editor Roger Alton will do just that.

In September 2003, on the eve of the Indy launching a tabloid version in addition to the broadsheet, it was selling 218,567 copies a day – of which just under 39,000 were bulks.

Simon Kelner leaves the editor’s chair, to move up to the job of MD, with The Independent selling 246,584 of which just over 42,000 are bulk give-aways. Another 53,287 are the less-closely audited overseas sales.

The Indy has a UK and Ireland sale (excluding bulks) of 151,184, whereas The Guardian’s figure is double that, at 302,109. The Guardian gave away 15,301 copies as bulks in March and had overseas sales of 40,732.

The Sun was the only UK national daily to increase sales year on year in March – up 2.12 per cent to 3,096,086.

It was helped by a discounted 20p cover price in London and the south east, and in Scotland – some 966,223 copies were sold at a discount. The title may have also been boosted by its move to full-colour printing, and by a TV-promoted Doctor Who DVD give-away.

The Evening Standard was able to claim a year-on-year headline ABC increase of 6.55 per cent by increasing its bulk give-away copies from 62,506 in March 2007 to 99,524 last month. The FT ended a lengthy run of year-on-year circulation increases in March – dropping 1.32 per cent to 454,937. But sales of the UK and Ireland edition were actually up slightly, from 138,878 in March 2007, to 140,724 – suggesting the tougher times in the City are yet to impact on the FT’s home market.

The only Sunday newspaper to put on sales year on year was The Observer – up 1.32 per cent to 461,739.

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