The New Day but not a new dawn for Mirror owner

 
Mark Kleinman
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Launching a new newspaper in the current market is quite a gamble (Source: Getty)

It may lack the attention-grabbing quality of “Bus Found on Moon” and other red-top headlines, but “Publisher Unveils National Tabloid” has a similar ring of implausibility.

In a national newspaper market characterised by perpetually declining annual sales, Trinity Mirror’s launch of New Day looks like an adventurous bet on the willingness of a dwindling band of consumers to embrace an unknown product.

That is a big call, given the size of the marketing budget needed to deliver an impact in a sector where rival tabloid daily publishers can use a lethal cocktail of advertising campaigns, price cuts and greater editorial muscle to close the door on aspiring new entrants.

Trinity Mirror’s shares are down more than 20 per cent over the last 12 months, which can partly be explained by the capital-raising used to fund its takeover of the regional publisher Local World last autumn.

The company’s shares, though, are now trading below that discounted placing price, suggesting investors’ faith in the company and broader industry is waning once more.

True, Simon Fox, Trinity’s chief executive, has confounded sceptics by reviving sales growth since taking over in 2012. But his decision to unveil the latest addition to Britain’s pantheon of national newspapers on the day of the company’s annual results leaves him with little room to hide.

The morning of 29 February might be a new day for Trinity Mirror, but a new dawn for tabloid newspaper is still a far-off fantasy.

LORD MAYOR'S WINGS CLIPPED

Surrounded by the pomp and finery of Mansion House during formal occasions, it isn’t hard to see why the Lord Mayor of London is one of the most widely recognised holders of a political office (albeit a non-partisan one) in the world.

But do its occupants punch above their weight by delivering trade deals of genuine substance with overseas partners? It’s been an open question for some time, and the City of London Corporation will now address it.

According to a confidential report written by Sir Simon Fraser, a former Whitehall mandarin, the Lord Mayor should undertake fewer, but more intensive, trade visits to markets which really matter.

It’s sage advice. A glance at the itinerary of Lord Mountevans, the current Lord Mayor, lists 27 countries that he will visit during his year in office.

Far better, surely, to concentrate his efforts on markets which have real growth potential and where City-based firms can exploit their position.

It’s a lesson that would also be well-heeded by officials in Whitehall as they welcome Mark Price, the new trade and investment minister, who is about to become the fifth holder of the role in less than a decade.

Britain’s lamentable export performance suggests that the likeable Price will be starting out with one arm tied behind his back.

HSBC’S EASTERN HOSPITALITY

Appearances can be deceptive. You would have thought after last Sunday’s announcement that HSBC Holdings would retain its global headquarters in London that Hong Kong had suffered a kick in the teeth.

Perhaps, though, that’s not the most appropriate way to assess which of the bank’s home markets really has the upper hand.

On Monday, HSBC will publish its full-year results and annual report at lunchtime in Hong Kong, and 4am in London. So it’s the Asia-based analysts and journalists who will be getting a decent night’s sleep on Sunday. Those who laugh last…

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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