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January 14, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 7:21am

Guardian and Observer hike cover prices as Saturday edition gets compostable wrapping in UK first

By James Walker

The Guardian and Observer newspapers have hiked their cover prices for the first time in three years, with the Guardian’s Saturday edition becoming the first national title to use biodegradable wrapping.

The price hikes come amid rising newsprint and distribution costs. The weekday Guardian is priced £2.20 from today, up 20p. The Observer on Sunday is also up 20p to £3.20. 

The Guardian Saturday edition will be priced at £3.20 – going up by an extra 30p following the last wave of cover price hikes by publisher Guardian News and Media in April 2016.

It is not quite the most expensive paper on the UK newsstand, with the Financial Times selling at £2.70 daily and £4 on the weekend. Subscribers will not be impacted by the latest cost increases, according to the Guardian.

The new wrapping on the Saturday edition of the paper is made from potato starch and can be disposed of in compost heaps and food waste bins. It is the first national UK title to swap out the plastic used by its rivals.

Papers in the new wrapping will first arrive in London, Kent, Essex, Norfolk, Hertfordshire and Suffolk before they are rolled out to the rest of the UK in the coming year.

In a letter to readers, Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner said: “I hope you’ll agree this is a significant and welcome step.”

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She said more than one million readers had supported Guardian journalism over the past three years, which meant it was “on the path to financial sustainability”.

“But we have much more work to do, which is why we are increasing the price of the Guardian in print from today.

“This is our first price rise in almost three years. The Guardian, like all other newspapers, faces very tough trading conditions.

“Newspaper sales are in decline, while advertisers increasingly spend their money with technology giants rather than publishers. The costs of printing, paper and distribution all continue to rise.”

When the Guardian relaunched its weekly news magazine late last year, it revealed that its cover price had gone up by £1.60.

The Guardian Media Group, owner of the Guardian and Observer, reported that digital revenues had overtaken print for the first time in its latest company accounts filing, published in July last year. GMG reported a pre-tax profit of £53.2m, but a £23m loss on earnings (EBITDA).

Picture: Guardian

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