Cut-price papers blamed for lost Trinity readers

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The Independent Online
THE TRINITY International- owned Liverpool Daily Post is losing readers as a result of fierce competition from price-cutting national newspaper titles. Circulation fell by around 2,700 copies a day, or 3.4 per cent, to 78,607 in July-December 1993 compared with a year earlier.

Philip Graf, Trinity's chief executive, blamed cover price cuts at the Times, the Sun and Today. 'This is the first time in five years the Post hasn't shown circulation gains,' he said. 'The fact is that regional morning newspapers have their main competitors in daily national newspapers.'

Mr Graf singled out Today, which has cut its price by 5p to 25p in the Liverpool area only. Its stablemate, the Sun, remains unpopular there because of its coverage of the Hillsborough disaster.

Today, which is now 10p cheaper than the Post, has boosted Liverpool sales by more than 6,300 copies a day, or 22 per cent, to 35,000 since the cut began in August.

Nevertheless, Trinity, which has interests in the US and Canada as well as in the UK, where it is the sixth biggest regional newspaper publisher, still saw 1993 pre-tax profits rise by 32 per cent to pounds 19.9m.

Turnover was up by almost 17 per cent to pounds 134m, although there was substantial spending on acquisitions with gearing up from 14.5 to 50 per cent.

Trinity's main purchase was the pounds 23.2m acquisition of Argus Press, which added a net 18 new titles. But there was also the pounds 12.4m purchase of Huddersfield Newspapers and the pounds 1.2m acquisition of Blackmore Vale, a Dorset magazine.

Advertising volumes grew last year but the performance was mixed. Trinity believes recovery will depend on how consumers view April's tax increases.

The final dividend is 6.7p, giving total dividends up 11.5 per cent to 9.7p. The shares rose 3p to 458p.