Media: Lifeline - Metro

From a chaotic launch to a potential battle with Express Newspapers, the success goes on as sales hit one million. March 1999 ...

After a hair-raising pre-launch, Metro finally hits the market only a week late (there had been rumours of at least one spoiler to rival Associated's launch; Metro's first editor was sacked when the dummy issues weren't up to scratch; then the print run had to be slashed when it was realised the distribution arrangement wouldn't cope with more than 100,000 copies). But by June, it has achieved a circulation of just over 300,000.

November 1999 ...

Metro launches editions in Birmingham and Edinburgh, sparking a turf war with Trinity Mirror, the dominant publisher in each region. Metro North West goes head-to-head in Manchester with Guardian Media Group, which retaliates with the Manchester Metro News.

December 2000 ...

With a network now embracing London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh, Metro closes the year as the UK's sixth-largest newspaper title, with a circulation of just under 780,000. It earns Campaign's Medium of the Year accolade after capturing £24 million in advertising revenue.

November 2002 ...

Express Newspapers reveals plans for a rival London title to be aimed at evening commuters, triggering a series of legal skirmishes with Associated. The Express title, to be called either PM or London i, remains on the drawing board, with the result of a Office of Fair Trading investigation pending.

October 2004 ...

Following launches in the West Country and the East Midlands, the title's circulation figure hits the one million mark. The title's advertising performance, particularly in the display market (up 25 per cent year on year) boosts revenue at Associated. It is taking sales from a number of titles nationwide, but the London Evening Standard is particularly badly hit - down 8 per cent year on year.

Fast forward ...

2005 Associated begins to scale back distribution of Metro to more affluent London commuter suburbs to protect the Standard and particularly the Daily Mail. The Express group launches its rival and Metro counters with the launch of a Metro PM product.

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