Bucking trends before breakfast

Scotland's newest paper insists it has a unique selling point.

Final details are now emerging of Scotland's first new daily newspaper for more than 100 years - a small circulation business paper which threatens to overturn several immutable truths about the Scottish and, potentially, British market - is nearing publication.

Final details are now emerging of Scotland's first new daily newspaper for more than 100 years - a small circulation business paper which threatens to overturn several immutable truths about the Scottish and, potentially, British market - is nearing publication.

Business a.m, a paper targeted entirely at a business and finance audience, is being launched by the Swedish newspaper group Bonnier AG in five or six weeks. It has modest aspirations, to sell only 35,000 copies in four years' time. But the paper is entering probably the most competitive newspaper market in the world and is planning to sell most of its copies by subscription, arriving before breakfast with the morning mail.

Given the state of the Royal Mail, that alone is a tough task. Through its new subsidiary, Business Media Scotland, Bonnier also plans to buck other traditions in the British industry - in particular by printing the paper by using a European-style, slightly rectangular tabloid format that is slightly bigger than traditional red-tops, but smaller than the broadsheets. It will be designed by Ally Palmer, the designer of Sunday Business and the later versions of The European, and will be Scandinavian in feel.

Rather than text-heavy news stories, said John Penman, the paper's editor, the front page will also offer the more digestible, bite-sized stories offered by its north European counterparts, with the front page effectively a menu for the paper's contents.

Speaking as he held "a dummy in my hands, hot off the presses," Mr Penman said: "The way we present the front page will be very different from UK papers. One of the guiding principles of this paper is that we're not eating into your time.

"We're not going to make it difficult for you to get information and therefore the menu approach in principle is good. It's how you make it work and in touch with what our British readers expect."That design has, however, introduced other problems for the designers. "There has to be a broadsheets approach for images, which is a challenge for snappers and a challenge for designers, but I think we've pulled it off."

Penman's initial subscription target is roughly 30 per cent of its early sales, growing to 75 per cent in about 2004. Advertisers have been told to plan their buying for Monday October 9 _ a day close to Penman's closely-guarded launch date.

However, Business am's critics have already alleged the paper is simply a rehash of projects which were rejected as unworkable by the Daily Record, which employed Penman to devise a similar Scottish project, then known as Project X, and Scottish Media Group, publishers of The Herald.

But Penman insists its "unique selling point" is its deliberate targeting. Devised for a market with four major city-based dailies, such as The Herald and The Scotsman, alongside all the London papers, Business a.m hopes it can plug a small but lucrative gap. It will also establish another tradition for Scots: it never publishes on Saturday.

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