Bath Chronicle switch to weekly 'a success'

The editor of The Bath Chronicle Sam Holliday has said that turning his daily newspaper into a weekly has surpassed all his expectations in terms of sales.

The paper was given its first official ABC audit, which ran from its 27 September launch date to 31 December. Its weekly figure averaged at 22,776 compared to an average sale of 12,000 as a daily.

Holliday said that he and his team had set a target of 20,000 sales. Prior to relaunch, the paper was on sale for 35p and has increased to 60p as a weekly.

He said: ‘Our worst sales day used to be 11,000 on a Monday and the best day was a Wednesday, when it would be around 15,000, so in theory 15,000 could have been the maximum of people that wanted a paper locally.

“I know from my own anecdotal experience talking to people there were some [readers] who had had the paper all their lives and they weren’t happy we’d gone weekly, and we may have lost some people as a result, but I think we have gained a lot more new readers.

‘When we started predicting what kind of figures we might get, we looked at anything from 15,000 upwards and we settled on a target figure of 20,000 so we are really pleased with the ABC report.

‘It was a little bit skewed because for the first four weeks we went in at half price and, particularly in the first two weeks, there was a real curiosity about it – not just locally.

‘Then it settled down quite quickly to around the 21-22,000 marker, and we are currently averaging around 20,000. That implies to us that we have picked readers off throughout the week, but we have created new readers as well.”

When the paper switched to a weekly, nine reporters were made redundant, leaving six after the relaunch. Pagination as a daily was between 40 and 148 pages on different days of the week.

Now there are 250 pages combining all the week’s news and supplements, making it one of the country’s biggest regional newspapers.

Its final ABC as a daily was 12,363, down from 13,871 a year before.

Holliday said: ‘Once we explained to people that economically it was difficult to continue and thrive as a small daily where as a big weekly we would hopefully attract more readers and more advertisers, they began to understand.

“We’ve seen signs of that but unfortunately we’ve launched at a time when everyone’s having a bit of a struggle; there’s not much money about.

‘What was very important to us was that we wanted to create something really good. It’s a real quality newspaper; from edition one to now we think it has maintained a very high standard.”

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