REGIONAL PRESS: THE NEW REGIONAL MAP - After a spate of costly acquisitions and mergers, the regional newspaper industry has been undergoing a comprehensive restructuring, allowing a new generation of groups to grow on the back of City confidence. Sue Phe

JIM BROWN, Executive chairman, Newsquest

JIM BROWN, Executive chairman, Newsquest

1995 Newsquest formed after management buyout of Reed Regional

Newspapers for pounds 205 million 1995 Bought WP for pounds 305


Flagship titles include Lancashire Evening News, Bolton Evening

Telegraph, Warrington Guardian, Doncaster Free Press

I hope we’ve helped change the perception of the regional press.

Regionals have a strong local position and are sitting on a huge

database of information - news and ads. The perception has been that

it’s old fashioned but, apart from pre-press, it’s a hi-tech, valuable


Our newspapers are doing well in advertising and circulation and we

continue to see revenue growth in recruitment and other business areas.

We’ve achieved strong advertising revenue growth of 9.3 per cent in the

first quarter.

The company is investing in new media and making advances. All our

titles are on the Internet and we expect to launch our first digital

community soon. In the past year, we’ve invested around pounds 15

million in technology.

Earlier this year, Newsquest bought Contact-a-Car and the London

Property Weekly series, both for small sums , but they add strength to

our growing Sussex and south London businesses. The London Property

Weekly series goes into around a quarter of a million homes.

A good geographical fit into our Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Essex,

south London and Sussex centres is what we are looking for when we buy

titles. Geographical clusters mean we can offer ad packages, cross-sell

between titles and offer TV regions. It also means we make back-office


In May, we got clearance from the Department of Trade and Industry to

buy the Mercury series in the Warrington area. We’ve also acquired the

Review series of titles for pounds 6 million, subject to DTI consent.

This probably makes us the biggest regional publisher in England.

PHILIP GRAF, Chief executive, Trinity International Holdings

1995 Bought Thomson Regional newspapers for pounds 327.5 million

Flagship titles include Daily Post, Liver- pool, Evening Chronicle,

Newcastle, South Wales Echo, Belfast Telegraph, Sunday Business Post,


We’re committed to training and developing staff. We retained Thomson’s

editorial training department when we bought the Thomson titles but

renamed it Trinity Editorial Training.

It’s important we get good quality, local management. It’s the key to

the local newspaper business and local community. A number of our

centres have won Investors in People awards and we scooped three

Newspaper Society awards this year.

One, the sales award, was for a promotion in Liverpool that urged

readers to collect tokens for their local school to win a trip to

Disney. The promotion boosted sales as well as linking the paper with

schools, young people and the wider community.

In Liverpool, our link with Channel One is very encouraging. It allows

us to offer advertisers daily or weekly papers, paid or frees, cable

audiotext, sponsorship and leaflet distribution. I hope we can develop

this in other centres.

Any consumer business is cyclical, but what we’re seeking is a broader

revenue base. The key is the way the regional press is managed and the

media business developed. You must be prepared to develop an

entrepreneurial culture and take a few risks.

Publishers such as ourselves, Johnston, Newsquest and Northcliffe are

committed to developing the regional press. In some situations, we work

together to offer advertising solutions. A lot of media buyers realise

the value of this industry. I hope non-traditional buyers are beginning

to see what we can offer in flexibility and quality editorial and colour


TIM BOWDLER, Chief executive, Johnston Press

1996 Acquired Emap Newspapers for pounds 211 million

Flagship titles include Halifax Evening Courier,Northampton Chronicle &

Echo,Peterborough Evening Telegraph,Scarborough Evening News

Flagship titles include Lancashire Evening News, Bolton Evening

Telegraph, Warrington Guardian, Doncaster Free Press

We’ve always been advocates of acquisition to grow the business.

It’s very much our policy to invest consistently in our core


Investment in colour, pagination, content and editorial quality for all

our titles is the very essence of our business. It’s fundamental to

long-term success. And this decision has paid off in circulation


All our profits and successes are generated from print and I don’t see

this changing in the foreseeable future. We have been involved in

contract printing but got out of it several years ago as it didn’t offer

a good return.

Our investment in print is far greater than that for electronic media

such as the Internet, but we can’t be complacent and must make a modest

investment in this area so as to have a toe-hold to defend our


I don’t believe the new media will replace newspapers or take a

substantial part of our revenues, but we need to keep abreast. People

access news in a variety of ways.

Smoothing the path for advertisers to tap into the regional press is

vital. Marketing is the key and we have national and local marketing

managers. The Newspaper Society can do so much but at the end of the day

it’s down to publishers.

We have a responsibility to make the media buyers’ lives easier. After

we’d bought the Emap papers, we put to-gether an easy-to-use media pack

for a range of titles. There are various levels of advertisers but, on a

national level, Mediaforce now represents our titles. This helps smooth

the path for those who’ve long found the regional press difficult to