Indie owner likely to price cut say insiders

New owner of the Independent newspaper titles Alexander Lebedev is unlikely to move to a completely free model, say industry insiders.

The Independent and Independent on Sunday
The Independent and Independent on Sunday

Lebedev has just bought The Independent and Independent on Sunday from Independent News & Media for £1 and speculation is rife as to his strategy to restore the fortunes of the titles.

Lebedev bought The Evening Standard last year and turned it into a free newspaper. However, press buyers believe that the cover price of The Independent brings in too much revenue to suddenly switch model to rely purely on advertising sales.

Vanessa Clifford, head of press at Mindshare, says: “Although there is a view that the Indy will follow the Standard down the free route I think this is unlikely in the short term, the Standard had a ready made distribution model and the advantage of a London based circulation, the logistics of moving a national paid for, at albeit small circs, to free are considerably more complex.”

The consensus is that there is likely to be cover price cutting to encourage sampling. Neil Allen, press trading director at SMG, says: “Lebedev could look to initially promote it and price cut – price cutting can work in the quality market. In the short term he is going to have to invest in the product. He did invest in the Standard.”

Observers agree that the most pressing problem is the Independent on Sunday, which has seen average net circulation plummet. Year on year it was down 9.84% for the period September 2009 to February 2020 to 155,661. Allen says: “It’s much more difficult problem to turn around” and points to the marketing muscle of The Sunday Times and The Sunday Telegraph, alongside the relaunch of The Observer, as hard to challenge.

Clifford says: “I think the most likely move we will see is the closure of the Sunday or rather the move to a weekend product focused on comment and round up complimented with a couple of supplements.

The newspaper has to come back onto the radar of press buyers and while there is agreement that there is specific type if Indy reader who can be useful to advertisers “every year, there’s less and less of them.”

Clifford says: ” It will be interesting to see the editorial direction the title takes. At times I think it’s taken its ’independence’ too far so that it can appear to the broad newspaper reading audience out there to be out of kilter with other newspapers and whilst a point of difference should be applauded, when that difference puts you so far away from competitors it can become a hindrance.”

Latest from Marketing Week

Mark Ritson investigates: Recreational marijuana

After probing America’s newest industry four key questions spring to mind: Which will be the big marijuana brands of the future? Why does scale drive ad effectiveness? What day is it? And, why have my legs stopped working?


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here