A new Sunday newspaper is being planned as a specialist business title -
to sit alongside the likes of the Sunday Times and Observer as a weekend
The new paper, provisionally titled Sunday Business, has already had
around pounds 1m spent on researching and developing it.
Its overall launch budget is thought to be in the region of pounds 10m
to pounds 15m. And as much as 40% of that could go on its marketing and
Several agencies, including those with experience of working on the
advertising of major players in the national newspaper market, have been
A launch date of April has been pencilled in, and if it does go ahead
then details of journalists and financial backers are due to be
announced in the new year.
Supply but no demand?
But in a crowded newspaper market, where the talk is of papers closing
and circulations falling, will the proposed title ever see the light of
day? And, if it does appear, is there enough demand in a market well
served by existing business sections to sustain it?
Sunday Business would need a circulation of 150,000 with a cover price
of 85p to justify publication. A pilot issue has already been produced,
with six sections, including a magazine called Trading Week - which will
cover the international markets.
The man behind the proposed launch is Tom Rubython, former owner and
editor of Business Age, who sold the magazine off to VNU for more than
Rubython is adopting a cautious tone about the chances of the newspaper
making it to market, despite the heavy cost of research and development.
But it would have to be a tightly run ship and the first year would see
losses of around pounds 4m - being turned around to a pounds 20.2m money
maker by the end of year three.
Rubython will only say that it’s a ‘project under development’ - and
questions about funding and viability remain unresolved. But its
development has gone a long way - dummies have been produced and
research groups are understood to have liked them.
However Mel Varley, deputy media director at Leo Burnett, which this
year researched, along with the Central Office of Information and
Express Newspapers, what newspaper sections people read, said the
business market at weekends is already well served.
‘A new title wouldn’t only be competing with the Sunday business
sections, but also those published on a Saturday. There is also The
Economist, which publishes on a Friday. The cost of setting up such a
paper would also be high. Sunday Business would need to bring in
business journalists who knew their area and could imbue the brand with
the quality needed to distinguish itself in the market.’
Varley points out that if there was a gap in the market for a business
Sunday - then the obvious candidate to fill it would have been a seventh
issue of The Financial Times.
But Frank Barlow, managing director of Pearson, the FT’s publisher, is
sceptical about whether a Sunday business title could bring enough to
the party to survive competition from the growing business sections in
He says Pearson has looked at opportunities for extending the Financial
Times brand - but a Sunday paper makes no sense.
‘We’ve got no plans to go into the market and produce any weekend
versions of the Financial Times. The financial market is not active on a
Saturday - so one of the main reasons why people buy the paper on a
Sunday would be removed.
‘I personally don’t think a dedicated Sunday business paper will work.
The title will inevitably be feature-led rather than containing hard
information. I think this is a very difficult market to break into, and
one where there is already established competition.’
But where Sunday Business differs from previous research into whether a
new Sunday title is possible, is that pilot issues have already been
If the title could establish itself as an authoritative voice in
business journalism then readers might feel they had to have it.
Sunday Business may hope to steal the FT’s clothes, telling readers ‘No
Sunday Business - No Comment on Monday mornings.’