Trinity Mirror shuts mag to fund newspaper battle

NEWSPAPER publisher BPM Media has closed a glossy lifestyle magazine to bankroll its response to a rival free newspaper which is expected to be launched next week.

The publisher, part of Trinity Mirror plc, confirmed that the monthly Living title will be suspended to free-up resources to fight the launch by veteran free newspaper entrepreneur Chris Bullivant. BPM also publishes the Birmingham Mail, the Coventry Telegraph and the Birmingham Post.

Staff from the magazine will be used to help launch the Trinity Mirror-owned publisher’s response to Bullivant’s Birmingham Press. BPM managing director John Griffith would not confirm whether this will be a beefed-up version of BPM’s existing weekly free newspaper, the Mail Extra, or a new title.

He said: “The closure of Living allows us to redeploy resources to protect our position in the Birmingham market.

“We want to be ready to make the right tactical response and we’re certainly not dismissing Chris Bullivant’s new venture. He’s a very experienced newspaper man who has been doing this for more than 30 years. We welcome competition – it’s good to look at the things you’ve been doing and ask if they can be done better when a competitor comes along.”

Living magazine was launched last year when two fortnightly titles, City Living and Select Living were merged as part of a wider project to make £10 million savings across Trinity Mirror Midlands. Those magazines were originally stand-alone titles, but were incorporated into the Birmingham Post in 2007.

Both sides are believed to be gearing up for a major battle for readers and advertisers in the UK’s second largest city. A ‘council of war’ involving senior BPM  executives was held over the weekend at Trinity Mirror’s corporate headquarters in Canary Wharf in London, while the Bullivant team has recruited at least six full time advertising staff to its commercial team. The Press sales force will be led by commercial director Rebecca Keegan, a Bullivant veteran who has also worked in media agencies across the West Midlands.

Chris BullivantSpeaking to last month, Chris Bullivant said his new newspaper would be a ‘quasi-paid-for’ title, with a core sale of around 5,000 supplemented by 20,000 copies delivered to upmarket suburbs like Harborne and Moseley.

He said he was aiming to fill a gap that had opened up since the Birmingham Post had changed from daily to weekly publishing, and a market that was missed by the ‘downmarket’ Birmingham Mail.

“People say I’m attacking Trinity Mirror,” he said, “but I attack monopolies and I attack markets. I am going in with a relatively low-cost model to service a part of the market that has been let down.

“People ask why I’m doing this and the answer is simple – because it’s my city.”

The launch editor of the Birmingham Press is Tony Lennox, a former editorial director of Trinity Mirror’s weekly newspapers.