Standard braced for 100,000 sales sacrifice

Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Evening Standard, is prepared to lose 100,000 daily sales as it takes the fight for the London market to News International.

Insiders at the Standard said it plans to raise its coverprice by 10p to 50p and move the title upmarket in reaction to News International's launch of its evening freesheet thelondonpaper on 18 September.

Senior figures at Associated are said to be willing to take the circulation hit in a bid to preserve the long-term future of the Standard. Its average June circulation was 309,908.

Sources said the lunchtime freesheet Standard Lite will be dropped and an afternoon freesheet, with the working title London Lite, will be introduced alongside the paid-for Standard. Protecting Metro, Associated's morning freesheet, is also said to be a priority for management.

Media agency sources said they have been told the Standard plans to introduce a new trading system, separating out sales packages for the Evening Standard and the Lite edition.

The Standard recently re-designed under its editor, Veronica Wadley, and is revamping its thisislondon website. It launched Standard Lite in late 2004 as a way of encouraging younger readers to trial the paid-for edition.

News International is promising to pump out 400,000 copies of thelondonpaper into central London.

- Perspective, page 19.