Swindon Advertiser outperforms daily sector

Digestible news that ‘doesn’t read like War and Peace’has helped boost sales of top evening performer the Swindon Advertiser, according to its editor Dave King.

The paper, one of two evenings to put on sales in the ABC report, also benefited from a four per cent positive swing following the launch of its ‘reader acquisition programme’to boost home deliveries in February 2007. These factors resulted in a 0.4 per cent sales rise to 21,951 year on year in the latest ABC report.

King, who replaced Mark Waldron in August last year, said: ‘We are trying to create a paper that is not too weighty and which readers can dip in and out of.

“That’s why the Metro and London Lite have worked so well and a lot of papers are now constructing their design and content along those lines. I have tried to do that to an extent.

‘Some papers read like War and Peace but our stories aren’t overwritten, you have side bars, there are lots of nibs, the pages are busy, every page counts.”

The only other evening title to put on sales, which it did for the second year in a row, was the Dundee Evening Telegraph, up 0.4 per cent to 24,349

The paper’s editor Gordon Wishart has been making a number of changes since he joined the paper three years ago, to make content more localised. Wishart has rebranded its editions and vendor kiosks, and introduced more colour pages.

The next best performing evening title by growth was the Guernsey Press and Star, down 0.3 per cent to 16,196, followed by the Jersey Evening Post on 21,100, down 0.6 per cent.

The total circulation of Britain’s 72 regional evening newspapers was down 5.3 per cent year on year in the second half of 2007 – from 2,777,041 to 2,629,193.

Of the big city papers the Newcastle Evening Chronicle and The Argus in Brighton were the best performers in terms of sales growth. The Chronicle was down 2.7 per cent to 74,977, while The Argus was down 2.9 per cent to 32,874.

In Newcastle, a combination of boosting the paper’s brand, the national interest whipped up during speculation of who would take over Newcastle United FC, and Kevin Keegan’s subsequent signing, contributed to the paper’s success.

Editor Paul Robertson said: ‘We’ve had some interesting times at Newcastle United which has given us a pretty solid year.’

The Birmingham Mail’s circulation was down 6.9 per cent this time, compared with a six per cent drop in the previous period, and The Sentinel, Stoke, shed 5.2 per cent, down to 61,910.

The Belfast Telegraph reported the biggest sales decline, down 13.9 per cent. It was followed by The Star in Doncaster which fell 10.8 per cent, and the South Wales Echo down 10.2 per cent to 46,127.

n The circulation performance of the UK’s regional morning newspapers was slightly improved in the last six months of 2007, compared with the most recent period.

In total, the 15 titles sold 656,243 copies on average per day – down 3.6 per cent year on year.

Top performer was the Northern Echo in Darlington, down 0.8 per cent year on year, and evidently feeling the benefits of its switch to tabloid format in February 2007.

Another strong performer was the Irish News, which fell 1.5 per cent to 47,790.

Editor Noel Doran said: ‘I wouldn’t subscribe to the theory that all regional newspapers are doomed to face declining sales indefinitely. We are going to be working very hard to get ourselves into growth again.”

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