With all the politicking and power-broking in the regional
newspaper business at the moment, it seems a lot more Westminster than
Warminster or Worcester.
In the last fortnight, Campaign Media Business has reported two major
moves in the world of the regional newspaper sales houses. First it
emerged that Trinity Mirror is set to merge its Mirror Group sales team
with sales house Amra. Then Eastern Counties Newspapers admitted it was
preparing to move one of its major sales accounts from Amra to
Clacksons. Clacksons will now sell all of ECN’s titles.
The result of these deals is to leave Amra looking increasingly like an
in-house operation. Although the sales house is still selling for
Chronicle Publications, Isle of Wight County Press and a few Guardian
Media Group titles, one wonders whether Mike McCormack and his troops
will soon be invited to join the happy throng in Canary Wharf.
Perhaps more significantly, the moves will put more than 77 per cent of
the regional newspaper market (by circulation) into the hands of the top
five sales houses.
No-one expects the consolidation to stop there, either. Venture capital
companies crave quick returns and shareholders want to see
So where would a betting man expect to see the consolidation? On the
sales house side, RIM looks a fine buy, if venture capitalist owner
Candover could be persuaded to sell. And on the newspaper side, South
News looks a tasty morsel for one of the acquisition-hungry groups. But
the only safe bet is that the wheeling and dealing is not over yet.