The tabloid-sized Independent is expanding outside London to hit news-stands in Liverpool, Manchester and the rest of the Granada TV region from Tuesday.
The move comes as other broadsheets are openly looking into following suit with tabloid editions.
Independent editor Simon Kelner told Press Gazette he expected circulation for October – the paper’s first complete month with a tabloid edition – to be up between 6 and 7 per cent year-on-year. This compares with the average sales figure for six months to the end of September of 220,158, 2.5 per cent down on the same period last year.
An extra 35,000 tabloid copies are to be distributed in the Granada region on top of the 85,000 already printed in the south of England. Two weeks ago, distribution of the tabloid Independent was expanded from Greater London to include key commuter railway stations outside the M25, such as Brighton and Cambridge.
Kelner said the aim now was to “cover as much of the country as we can”, but added the broadsheet format was not under threat.
He said: “What’s interesting is that by offering the choice, quite a lot of people in London still choose the broadsheet. There’s no sense that we are going to stop offering readers the choice. The tabloid is innovative and convenient and has a desirability – people like the feel of it and the shape of it. It has an appeal beyond just people who take it on the tube and the train. I’ve had letters from people who say they just like it because it looks nice, it’s compact and has freshness and modernity.”
He added: “We are incredibly pleased with it. It’s done everything that we hoped it would achieve.”
The Daily Telegraph is one of the other broadsheets which is known to have put together a tabloid dummy and carried out market research on the issue.
Editorial director Kim Fletcher said: “What’s interesting is that we’ve all gone very open about this suddenly – we’ve done a dummy and it looks very nice. I understand The Times has done a dummy as well.”
He added: “The argument for the Telegraph is in some ways more complicated than for The Independent because we are the market leader, so there isn’t the same pressure on us to do something.
“It’s a dummy that looks twice as good as The Independent – but there’s a danger that we get carried away and forget that we’ve got real advantages with market leadership.”
By Dominic Ponsford