The Times hunts for direct shop to build loyalty programme

News Group Newspapers is searching for a direct marketing agency to build a loyalty programme for The Times.

The Times has held meetings with at least two direct marketing agencies and is expected to make an appointment imminently.

The newspaper had used Lowe Live as its direct marketing agency but the two parted company earlier this year as The Times decided to take most of its direct and database activity in-house.

The Times is battling to retain its market share after a small circulation decline of 1 per cent to 711,628 between November and April. Other broadsheets are also losing readers.

The Times, along with its rivals, such as The Daily Telegraph, has invested heavily in direct marketing over the past decade. Its activity has enabled it to market separate sections of the newspaper and price promotions to new readers, while building loyalty among its existing customer base.

Andrew Mullins, the marketing director of The Times, refused to comment.

Rupert Murdoch's newspaper division, which also owns The Sun, has just announced a 5 per cent decline in revenues. News Corp unveiled a quarterly loss of $4 billion after writing off its investment in the publisher Gemstar.