Posts Tagged: Associated

Metro’s 10 years is a testament to business acumen

Congratulations must go to Associated’s Metro, which celebrates 10 years in circulation today.

The free city-based spoiler to Sweden’s Metro International has defied the critics, and the odds, and managed to carve out a niche for a daily title that encapsulates news-lite, as seen on TV and global wires the night before.

When first launched in London on 16 March 1999, Metro had a print circulation of 85,000, distributed through some 70 underground stations in the heart of the capital.

Ten years on, and the now all too familiar blue masthead boasts a circulation of 1.3 million and more than3.3 million readers.

It is distributed in every major UK city, including London, Brighton, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and Cardiff.

In today’s celebratory issue, the paper proudly lists the stories it has carried over the years under the banner ‘You read it here’ (no sign of the word ‘first’). Included in its array of achievements is last month’s revelation “Feb 2 – Snow covers much of Britain”.

But while its content, buoyed by page 3 staples about giant toads, homes built for smurfs, killer crayfish and things to do with old copies of Metro, may not be award-winning stuff, the deals that have helped propel the titlehave been impressive.

Realising its potential if it moves beyond the capital, Associated embarked on an ambitious expansion strategy. But when faced with the realisation that most pockets of the UK are sown up by strong regional newspaper operations, the group managed to broker a series of innovative partnerships.

It is something Metro International has been trying, and failing, to do in Germany for more than a decade.

Today, the free paper is in bed with Trinity Mirror, Northcliffe Media, Johnson Press and the Guardian Media Group. It also publishes in Dublin through a joint venture with Irish Times and is part of a European sell through a deal with Metro International.

With its network of eyeballs in place, Metro was able to double its ad rates by the middle of the decade,claimingunprecedented access to the elusive, young professionals.

Its commercial drive has also resulted in some genuine market-leading solutions, including Metro’s ‘Brand to Hand’ sampling business (Yorkie, 2002); the Metro Rough Guide partnership (Post Office, 2004); wraps on high grade glossy paper (BA, 2005); and even wraps incorporating lenticular holographic images (Sony Ericsson, 2008).

Managing director Steve Auckland rightly acknowledges that Metro has become an “invaluable part of the journey for commuters in the UK”, and is now the fourth largest national newspaper in the country, “with over 3.3m readers daily”.

But to survive the next 10, the papercan’t affordfor its achievements to end there. The well publicised profitability it reached in 2003, is now under serious threat following double-digit declines in advertising, while a revitalised Evening Standard, under new Russian rule, will also be hoping to make a sizeable dent in its London operations. The next round begins with a public fight to retain its TfL contract.

Happy Birthday Metro, here’s to those teenage years.

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