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UK Star postpones Irish launch amid confusion, with Express Newspapers claiming its arrival onto the Irish market won't affect sales of the Irish Daily Star

Oct 7 2011

Bob Nuttall, director of circulation at Express Newspapers, said the group will sell the UK Daily Star in the Irish market without affecting the Irish Daily Star

Bob Nuttall, director of circulation at Express Newspapers, said the group will sell the UK Daily Star in the Irish market without affecting the Irish Daily Star

Retailers and newspaper industry observers alike have failed to see the logic in Express Newspapers move to distribute the UK edition of the Star daily newspaper in Ireland.

Express Newspapers owns a 50% stake in the Irish Daily Star, which is one of the most consistently profitable dailies published in Ireland. The remaining 50% of the paper is owned by Independent News & Media, publishers of the Sunday Independent, Sunday World, Evening Herald and Irish Independent.

The Irish Daily Star is one of the best selling daily titles in the Irish market with an average daily sales figure of 87,121 according to the ABC January to June 2011 figures, and the company recently published results showing a profit in excess of €4,000,000. The company employs over 110 at its Dundrum offices in the Dublin suburbs.

Bob Nuttall, said that they feel there is a market for their daily product because of the success of the UK Star on Sunday in this market. That newspaper has recently achieved sales in the region of 39,000 copies, but according to retailer Joe Sweeney, who is chairman of the NFRN, this pick up in sales for the UK edition of the Sunday Star may be more attributable to the demise of the News of the World and the closure of the Irish Star Sunday. Speaking to ShelfLife, Bob Nuttall said that they will sell in the Irish market without affecting the Irish Daily Star. “It has different content and is an entirely different product” he said, adding “I’ve spoken to Joe Sweeney over there and he promises me that the Federation will get behind it”.

Speaking to ShelfLife, Sweeney said that Express Newspapers is "probably testing the market to see if they can save themselves money, and I really don't think that it is going to have a big sale here", a sentiment echoed by other newspaper retailers.

Reports suggesting that the UK edition of the Star will be printed on Independent News and Media presses have been denied by Joe Webb, managing director at IN&M, who said “at this point in time there is no agreement to print the UK Star”.  Webb refused to be drawn on the issue of potential brand damage to the Irish edition and added that they had a good working relationship with Express Newspapers saying “It is a very good partnership”.  

It was confirmed that the UK Star will carry the same cover price as the Irish edition.  This is almost certain to contribute to confusion and negativity at a consumer level, as the UK product’s cover will have a similar look to the Irish edition which is certain to lead to the wrong edition being picked up by accident. “Imagine Mrs Walsh who buys the paper every day when she gets it home to discover a topless girl inside. It won’t go down well at all.” said one local retailer. A non scientific straw poll among newspaper buyers who were shown the UK edition as it is currently sold in the UK clearly demonstrated that consumers would buy the UK edition believing it to be the Irish Daily Star.

The fact that the UK daily sells for 30p Stg. (about 36 cents) in Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the retail price will be almost 4 times this in Ireland will also lead to further brand damage and criticism. When asked how Express Newspapers would explain to consumers how a 30p weekday product in England could be offered at €1.35 in Ireland Bob Nuttall said “We’re not! It costs a different price in France too”.

Retailers are concerned that confusion at shop floor level could be caused by staff returning the wrong edition to the wrong distributor. Newspread are the distributor for the Irish Daily Star, while the UK edition is to be distributed by EM News. This means that if the wrong papers are returned to the distributor, retailers might not be credited and would lose money.

According to Sweeney, NFRN members are happy with the terms on the product as long as the cover price is not dropped. However confidence among retailers in the UK in the Newspaper publishers is not high on this issue with one retailer telling Shelflife “I do not think UK newspaper publishers can be trusted on cover price or margin as they have torn shreds out of both for UK retailers”.

The CSNA is appalled by the proposed initial print run which is scheduled to be 70,000. Vincent Jennings, CEO of the organisation said “We have raised this issue of this print run with the NNI environmental officer. This is not like filling a vacuum in the way that the Sunday product did following the demise of the Irish Star Sunday and then the News of the World. This is throwing the product into an already well served market. There is no way you are going to create a demand for 70 000 copies of a UK tabloid in an Irish market regardless of the price.”

The CSNA has engaged with the publishers of the UK Daily Star and confirmed that the barcodes have been provided to retailers by the distributor EM News. The editor of the UK edition of the Star refused to send a copy of the paper’s masthead for publication so that retailers could compare the two mastheads in advance.  Bob Nuttall confirmed that the UK edition for Ireland was delayed for a further week and would not be in circulation on the 10th of October, but was now scheduled for the 17th.

CSNA notes to retailers:


UK Daily Star Returns

IT IS VITAL THAT YOUR STAFF RETURN UNSOLDS OF UK DAILY STAR WITH YOUR EM NEWS RETURNS.

The UK Daily Star is NOT the Irish Daily Star; it is NOT distributed
by Newspread. There are still retailers returning (8 months after the
demise of the Irish Daily Star Sunday) the Star Sunday to Newspread,
at a loss each week to the retailers.

CHECK YOUR INSTRUCTIONS TO STAFF RESPONSIBLE FOR RETURNS OF NEWSPAPERS.

- Star Sunday goes back to EM News

- UK Daily Star goes back to EM News

- Irish Daily Star goes back to Newspread

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