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September 9, 2013

Redesign, price cut and cup win: Story behind Paisley Daily Express, UK’s best-performing newspaper

By William Turvill

While many daily newspapers – national and regional – have seen double-digit circulation losses in the last year, one of the UK’s smallest titles, the Paisley Daily Express, has emerged as the most successful.

In the year to 30 June, the newspaper’s sales rose by 9.9 per cent, to 7,567. The only other daily title to increase its circulation was the i, which was up 9.3 per cent year on year, to 305,129.

Meanwhile, no other dailies increased their circulations during the same period, with an average year-on-year percentage change of 10.5 per cent across the regionals.

Editor John Hutcheson does not deny that a price cut from 45p to 20p last August helped the paper out. But this went up to 30p in February, and circulation has continued to climb.

Coinciding with the price drop, the paper was also redesigned. Media Scotland’s other regionals have since followed suit.

Hutcheson said: “I think the paper had become maybe a little bit tired and old-fashioned in terms of the way it looked.

“So we’ve spent a hell of a lot of time revamping it for the 21st century.”

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He added: “I think the thing previously was we probably didn’t sell ourselves well enough on the front page.

“You wouldn’t, I think, get a good idea of what is in the paper. While I think you probably do get that now. It’s probably doing a better job of selling ourselves: saying, look, this is what we’ve got in the newspaper today.”

He also said the paper, which has around ten journalists working on it, has had some good fortune.

“One of the great things for us this year was that in March St Mirren won the Scottish League Cup,” he said. “I think the whole of Paisley partied for a week.”

According Hutcheson, the cup win gave the next day’s paper a circulation boost of 49 per cent.

Despite its increasing circulation, the Paisley Daily Express remains the UK’s second smallest daily.

But Hutcheson said there are no plans for the paper to follow other, often larger, regionals by becoming a weekly title.

“I know obviously that there have been discussions up and down the country on those lines, but it’s not something that’s been considered here,” he said.

“It’s not something that’s been on the horizon for us. Paisley is Scotland’s largest town and I think it needs a daily paper…

“I think the people of Paisley are proud that they do have their own daily newspaper.

“So any thoughts of going weekly, it’s not on the horizon, it’s not something we’re considering at all. We’re still very, very committed to being a daily paper.”

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