The launch of News International‘s The Sun Sunday has had a ‘detrimental’effect on the Sunday newspaper market, according to the UK’s biggest newspaper distributor John Menzies.
The paper was launched in February with a cover price of 50p – sparking a price war among the Sunday tabloids.
The Daily Star Sunday, the Sunday Mirror and The People all dropped to 50p, but the two Trinity Mirror titles quickly reverted to £1 within weeks of the launch.
The Daily Star Sunday rose to 60p at the end of June and again to 70p at the end of July, while The Sun Sunday remains 50p.
According to the latest ABC figures, the Sun Sunday remains by far the biggest selling Sunday paper with an average circulation of 2,189,924 in June.
The Daily Star Sunday was up 54 per cent year on year at 473,352, the Sunday Mirror was up 0.06 per cent at 1,088,499, and The People was down 5.2 per cent at 450,097.
In an interim results statement John Menzies said: ‘The launch of the Sun on Sunday has had a detrimental effect on the Sunday newspaper market as a whole as it has a lower cover price than The News of the World and has gained volume from other higher margin titles.
‘However, overall the demise of The News of the World and the launch of the Sun on Sunday has not materially affected the financial returns from this category.”
It added that in the newspaper market volume decline was offset by strong cover price growth, with 12 titles increasing cover price during the period.
‘As a result, despite sales being 3.9 per cent behind last year, the category was marginally earnings positive.”
Monthly magazine titles were down 4.4 per cent and weeklies were down 8.4 per cent.
The company said in its report: ‘Magazines are still under pressure from UK economic conditions. Sales of monthly titles remain more resilient than weekly titles where price cutting is fierce in the crowded celebrity magazine category, although both were slightly boosted by Jubilee related product.”
Within the regional press division the company recently won a £12m, five-year contract with DC Thomson, which has outsourced its local newspaper distribution in the Dundee and surrounding areas.