The imminent newspaper war between Trinity Mirror and Chris Bullivant can be won by the entrepreneur, according to Marc Reeves, the former Birmingham Post editor who now edits The Business Desk in the West Midlands.
Bullivant is set to launch a rival Birmingham newspaper in the coming weeks, which has put Trinity Mirror on alert.
Reeves, who left the Trinity Mirror paper earlier this year during its bid to cut costs to the tune of £10 million, told The Drum that he felt that the key to ‘paper war’ was the property advertising market, which he doesn’t believe The Birmingham Mail has a stranglehold over in the region, having only secured the property advertising around a year ago.
“He stands a very good chance as Bullivant knows two markets better than almost anybody,” Reeves said.
“The first market he knows is the newspaper market, the second is the estate agency business. He’s built his newspaper business over 30 years, on the back of excellent relationships with estate agents. He’s had a go in Birmingham before with the Daily News and he’s been busy outside of the city for the last 20 years. It was only a matter of time before he came back to win over the Birmingham estate agents like he’s won over Solihull, Bromsgrove, Coventry and other places before.”
Reeves added that while there was revenue to be made from the property advertising run within its pages, Trinity Mirror would be more worried about the effect that losing the advertising would have on its sales figures.
“It can give you a good five or 10 percent uplift on your average daily sales, sometimes more. Some papers sell double on their property days than they do on their normal days, although I don’t think that the margin is quite the same with the Mail, but it is enough to make you hurt when you lose it and enough to make you happy when you gain it.”
Trinity Mirror, as it readies itself for the battle, has chosen to close down its glossy lifestyle magazine Living, and has seconded those members of staff who worked on the magazine onto an ‘unknown project’.
“Bullivant made some interesting comments to us a couple of weeks ago in an interview to say that ‘newspapers are no longer a high margin business. ’ So he’s coming into it with a smaller operation and saying that he is happy with smaller margins that the big boys and that he can do it for less with a lower cost base," continued Reeves.
"He’s offering pretty much the same thing to the market in terms of the newspaper itself and the advertising service. It’s really hard for big publishers who are really weighed down with commitments and several decades of publishing."