Associated Newspapers has called time on London Evening Standard vendors distributing editions of London Lite, its sister title. The move has been prompted by declining Standard sales, according to media buyers.
The publisher has decided the vendors, which it says shift between 30 and 40,000 copies of the freesheet every day across the capital, are not as efficient as London Lite merchandisers, which will now distribute the freesheets.
But Steve Auckland, head of Associated Newspapers free newspapers, refutes any suggestion that the move was prompted by declining sales of the Evening Standard. Instead, he says the move will mean the publisher will have more copies of London Lite to distribute in peak areas, such as Victoria and Waterloo stations between 6.45pm and 7.30pm.
He says: “This has nothing to do with the impact of sales on the Standard. It’s just that merchandisers are able to shift more copies. By the time we get the copies to vendors it’s too late.”
Mark Gallagher, head of press at Manning Gottlieb OMD, says/ “It wouldn’t surprise me” when asked if the move was driven by declining sales of the Evening Standard.
Ian Clark, general manager of thelondonpaper, says: “It is not rocket science to work out that people are going to opt for the free London Lite rather than the paid-for Evening Standard.”
The move comes as the row between the two papers shows no signs of abating. Both publishers have rec-ently taken out ads in the trade press attacking the other title.
London Lite’s 400,000 distribution is understood not to be affected by the decision.
Sales of the Evening Standard have severely dropped since the arrival of thelondonpaper and London Lite, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) figures.