The publisher of a 19-month-old independent Welsh weekly newspaper has announced plans to launch two new titles.
MegaGroup, based in Milford Haven, started publishing the Pembrokeshire Herald in July 2013. The 70p title now claims a paid-for circulation of 6,700.
From 6 March, it will begin publishing the Carmarthenshire Herald and Llanelli Herald titles, which will also be weekly and cost 50p each.
The company – which also publishes the 45,000-circulation, A4 glossy magazine Pembrokeshire Best once every two months and runs an online radio station, Herald Radio – claims to currently employ 25 staff.
In a statement announcing the new launches, MegaGroup said it will be taking on ten new members of staff immediately, and two more in the future to work in a satellite office in Llanelli.
According to managing editor Thomas Sinclair (pictured), MegaGroup will employ 16 full-time journalists when both new titles are up and running.
Like the Pembrokeshire Herald, the two new launches will include two pages, out of 88, of Welsh language news each week.
The Carmarthenshire Herald will begin with a print run of 14,000 and will be stocked across 278 shops, while 10,000 copies of the Llanelli title will be available across 137 outlets.
Both titles will also have their own websites, according to Sinclair.
The company also announced in a statement today that it has applied for £65,000 of funding from the Wales Economic Growth Fund “to help fund the infrastructure required for the project, including setting up a satellite office in Llanelli”.
According to Sinclair, the money has become available in the area following the closure of an oil refinery in the area. It is distributed by a department of the Welsh Assembly.
He said that plans for the new titles will go ahead regardless of whether the company obtains the £65,000.
Sinclair said: “Launching two brand new independent newspaper titles could be seen as a brave venture in this uncertain economic climate, but we at the Herald see a growing need for a county-wide voice for the people of Carmarthenshire.
"We will be launching these papers along the same principles which have made The Pembrokeshire Herald successful further west.
"We're going to be an independent voice. Just like in Pembrokeshire, we're not going to be relying on revenue from local authorities or any government sources. It's again a return to good old fashioned journalism.”
Sinclair told Press Gazette that the Pembrokeshire Herald's main rival is the Western Telegraph, which recorded an average circulation of 15,753 in 2013, and that the new titles will be taking on the Carmarthen Journal and the Llanelli Star, both owned by Local World.
According to ABC, in 2013 the Carmarthen Journal recorded an average circulation of 13,713 and the Star of 11,070.
Advertising sales director Tim Evans said: “This new venture gives a fantastic opportunity for our advertisers to have a new platform to promote their businesses across West Wales.
"We have already fully sold all the advertising spaces for the first editions, and are positive that the new papers will be a success.”