MEN admits Lite launch may hit sales

The Manchester Evening News has admitted that it may sacrifice up to 3,000 sales by launching a free Lite edition.
From Monday it plans to replace its fourth
edition with a free version of the paper distributed at train and bus
stations from 4.30pm onwards. The current paid-for final edition sells
up to 3,000 copies in Manchester city centre where the Lite is to be
Associated Newspapers launched a free version of
the Evening Standard, Standard Lite, three months ago and the latest
circulation figures show it has dented Standard sales.
Paid-for circulation for the Standard was down 12.5 per cent to 345,775
in February and a further 71,567 copies of Standard Lite were
distributed free at lunchtime in central London.
The MEN plans to build distribution of its Lite
edition to 10,000.
Editor Paul Horrocks said: “By limiting circulation to 10,000 and
confining it to the city centre we hope that any damage to sales will
be limited.”
He described the launch of Lite as “expansion” and said: “Other
companies have dealt with circulation decline differently, by cutting
back staff. We’ve hired six new journalists and are trying to appeal to
a new audience.”
Most content of Lite will be taken from other MEN
editions but it will contain less features and comment. It will run to
48 pages compared to the paid-for MEN which varies between 64 and 96.
According to Horrocks it will include a “blend of news, lifestyle
features and entertainment appropriately balanced and designed to
appeal to commuters, who typically do not buy any newspaper, as they
leave Manchester each evening”.
Horrocks said: “We see this as growing our
audience share. People aren’t buying the late evening edition of the
MEN, why is a mystery, but frankly they are not. I believe there’s
audience out there to attack and we are giving them a product I think
they’ll like.”
MEN managing director David Benjamin said: “We regard the MEN. as a portfolio of complementary products.”
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