Stoke's Sentinel Sunday switches to tabloid format

The Sentinel Sunday in Stoke-on-Trent has switched to a tabloid format to combat falling circulation, and has claimed a week-on-week sales boost of 52 per cent.

In its first week on sale as a tabloid this week, the paper sold 15,014 copies — which equates to around a 23 per cent year-on-year rise.

Editor Paul Dutton said much of the increase would be down to an introductory two-week price cut from 60p to 30p, as well as the novelty value — but he pointed out that August was normally a quiet period for newspaper sales.

In May last year, the Sentinel Sunday was selling around 13,500 with sales increasing, but in its last week as a broadsheet that figure had dipped to 9,857.

Dutton said: "We are closely linked to the fortunes of Stoke City, which had a pretty poor season, and we also had a 10p price increase in August of last year. We got hit, there's no doubt about it, we needed to increase sales.

"We always think of the broadsheet as a thing of beauty, but times change. We found a lot of our readers and advertisers like the content, but have been put off by the broadsheet, and it was something we had to address."

The Midlands newspaper of the year won Press Gazette's best Sunday/daily newspaper of the year in 2001 and 2004, as well as a European prize for its design.

Dutton admitted the team was worried about the effect going tabloid would have on the look of the paper.

"It's something that has concerned us," he said. "Photographs have always been a central part of the broadsheet and we tried to design it in such a way that they will still play a major part in it.

"A lot of the features pages are designed across two pages, so we can give plenty of play to pictures, and on the news pages we are going to go for a mixture of single pages and double-page spreads, where we will run the photograph across the gutter so we still have scope to display the pictures well."

All the previous content will remain in the tabloid version, although some page leads may come down in size. The new title is 120 pages where it was previously around 108.

There is a new recruitment supplement that hopes to attract job advertising, which has been falling in the regional newspaper market.

"It's quite deliberately creating a platform for advertising to go out and sell," said Dutton.

The Sentinel Sunday was launched in 2000 as a broadsheet, but as tastes have changed, many readers have said they no longer want to buy papers in the larger format.

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