In July, Richard Lambert, the editor of the Financial Times, will
be going to New York. No surprise there, you might think - Wall Street
is the financial centre of the world. But this isn’t a fact-finding
mission - Lambert won’t be coming back for at least a year.
Lambert’s relocation to the US will herald the start of one of the most
ambitious phases in the FT’s century-long history. Last week, it
announced a pounds 100 million programme to make it the world’s
pre-eminent international newspaper, expanding worldwide circulation
from 300,000 to around 450,000.
The strategy will be focused in the US, where Lambert will oversee the
development of a separate edition of the paper, but the cash will also
help to establish printing plants in Milan and Singapore.
Delaney Fletcher Bozell and its media arm, 20/20 Media, which already
handle the FT’s pounds 4 million pan-European account, will now also
pick up an additional pounds 3 million campaign to roll out the brand
across the rest of the world (Campaign, last week).
The FT, of course, has traditionally been a City paper, but over the
past decade - with the emergence of the single market - it has managed
to evolve into Europe’s top business daily. The European edition has a
circulation of 90,000. The UK figure is 170,000.
Can it now repeat that success at a global level? Traders in, say,
Frankfurt need to know what is happening in the London market because
London dominates European trading. But Americans tend to be
inward-looking and the Asians care more about Wall Street than the
And there’s another problem - the Wall Street Journal. The Journal is
peerless in its own US market and has a huge lead over the FT in
The Asian Wall Street Journal, launched in 1976, has a circulation of
53,000. And it does better in the FT’s backyard than the FT does in the
States - the European edition, launched in 1983, has a 65,000
FT sources say the intention isn’t to go head-to-head with the Journal,
but won’t it really boil down to that? Not exactly, Andrew Gil-christ,
the managing director of Financial Times International, says. The Wall
Street Journal, in all formats, is firmly focused on things American,
whereas the FT offers an international approach.
He adds: ’For those who need genuine macro-economic business
perspectives we have an unrivalled offering. After London, New York is
our next largest circulation centre and we are strengthening that
position. For many senior businessmen, what is happening outside their
domestic market is at least as important as what happens inside. We know
we will not be the only paper people will take, but there is an
increasingly important potential for us in the States, particularly on
the Eastern seaboard.’
Some observers say the challenge is enormous. In Asia and the US, there
is a huge competition, not just from the Wall Street Journal but from a
whole spectrum of business and finance titles.
Iain Jacob, the director of international at Motive, believes the title
is too London-oriented. ’To break out of Europe, the FT will not only
have to lose its UK focus but find something distinctive that you can’t
get elsewhere,’ he says.
Mark Lund, the chief executive of Delaney Fletcher, not surprisingly,
disagrees. He says the product is already well placed. ’It is our job to
change perceptions. Those who think that it’s a UK-centred financial
paper are out of date. It is about business rather than narrow financial
concerns and it is about global business.
’It is the paper for the business nation - a club that transcends
There are certainly plenty of internationally-minded people in Asia and
America,’ he says.