Posted: Sat 2nd Mar 2019

Wrexham Leader circulation drops to 3,825 copies – NWN Media Ltd dissolves just short of 100th birthday for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Mar 2nd, 2019

The Leader newspaper has returned to publicly reporting their circulations for the first time in years, and much like print figures around the world, the numbers are grim reading.

Last year the Leader publisher’s NWN was sold off for millions by the then family owners to Newsquest, a company ultimately owned by Gannett Company Inc an american multi billion dollar megacorp. The Leader always made much of it’s “family owned” and ‘local’ presence tags in it’s commercial activities, with both now gone from Wrexham.

This week saw the first ABC certificate for a few years covering recent circulation figures from August to December and gives an overall 6,271 average circulation, and details the split between Wrexham and Flintshire editions. 61% of copies are the Wrexham edition and the remaining 39% are Flintshire. Of the overall figure 4,304 copies are listed as paid single copies with 1,967 being to subscribers.

That means the overall average circulation figure is just 3,825 for Wrexham, and 2,445 for Flintshire. Previously there was a ‘Chester Leader’ edition, however that title was quietly binned just over a year ago.

Back in 2012 when we did our first stats piece the Leader had dropped 12% to an overall circulation of 16,131 so to date has tumbled -61%. In recent years the paper had de-registered from ABC auditing of circulation figures meaning it was hard to discover the circulation.

Readers now see a note on the paper’s masthead giving a hybrid stats figure of ‘trusted news read by 32,114 every day’ with mention that the figure is ‘print and online’ combined. Inside the paper runs house ads that point to their digital progress, almost averaging a million pageviews every month, although the origins of such online readers could be less straightforward than you would think for a ‘local’ publication.

(At the time of writing has 1.3m pages viewed in the last 30 days, and 1.08m)

Traffic is no doubt being given some form of boost by the mass inclusion of non-local stories via various UK and worldwide feeds, heralded to us when we saw a story pop up about a man arrested for threats to President Donald Trump – but it turned out to be a Press Association report about a chap in Texas rather than a local incident, as could be expected from a ‘local’ website.

Such Trump stories are a good example of the generic feeds attracting worldwide traffic from the internet, such as “Artist appeals for help after losing ‘irreplaceable’ Donald Trump wig” (London) or even answering the question on everyones lips in Rhostyllen, “What was on the menu for Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Hanoi?”.

Other odd content has also started appearing on the Leader’s website since Newsquest took over, some appearing to be leakage from other titles (“The best fry-ups in SE London and North Kent according to customers”) through to the searchbait traffic generator stalwarts of newsgroups large and small such as “When is the Bank Holiday and what is the weather going to be like” – bylined to a reporter from the not-so-local Basildon Echo and Canvey Echo.

The new UK wide ABC figures are given in full on trade website, broken down to weekly circulations and daily papers (as always the comments section is worth a read).

Trinity Mirror now rebranded as Reach PLC’s Daily Post title is down 9% and is at the 18,007 mark however looking at the certificate detail just 27% of those are for the ‘East’ edition that covers / sold in Wrexham area or 4,861 copies – again back in the early days of noting circulations that figure was 9,562 alone for the east, a drop of 50% in just over five years.

Other nearby publications such as the Chester Chronicle are listed, showing they have a circulation of just 6,001 which is down 15% year on year while the traditionally lower circulation Denbighshire Free Press is now at 3,727 copies.

In related news January also saw the voluntary strike-off and dissolving of NWN Media Ltd, a company that was known as North Wales Newspapers from 1920 through 2007, and had been rebranded as ‘NWN’ until it ceased to exist this year. With the company being formally dissolved on the 15th of January, it means it did not quite make the 100th year birthday milestone next year.

As we noted in 2016, NWN was placed under a holding company called ‘MOJO Holdings’, effectively owned and operated by the same people. Newsquest took over NWN in 2017, with MOJO appearing to retain various assets. Accounts lodged up to March 2017, apparently prior to the sale to Newsquest, stated that the net worth of NWN had reduced by £4m due to a dividend in specie to MOJO Holdings.

Companies House records now shows Mojo Holdings as under ‘members voluntary liquidation’, with a liquidator being appointed voluntarily by the company. The declaration of solvency document from September notes property assets of £3.6m and cash in the bank of £4.2m , which looks likely to be shared out between the shareholders of the company.

On August 3rd a new company was formed imaginatively called ‘MOJO 2‘ with the exact same directors as of MOJO Holdings. The new MOJO 2 Ltd states the nature of business being ‘Buying and selling of own real estate’ and ‘Other letting and operating of own or leased real estate’.

In June 2018 we reported how NWN’s flagship HQ building in Mold was up for sale or lease. Land Registry records now show a change of ownership took place in September 2018 with the property value stated at £1,280,000 and the new registered owner being ‘MOJO 2 Limited”.

This week a planning application has been lodged with Flintshire Council by a Director of MOJO 2 for that building, that is described as ,”Re-clad of existing building, subdivision into 5 separate units with class uses of B1 & B8 (Office accommodation, Light Industrial and Storage & Distribution)”.

Just before Christmas the Leader’s Wrexham office was sharply closed, and trade publication HoldTheFrontPage picked up on the story getting quotes from Newsquest that said a new lease had been agreed for the Mold office, and that ‘The company is proposing to retain a presence in Wrexham town centre from the New Year‘.

As of yet no new office has been opened.

Top pic: The former Leader office in Wrexham.

(End of an era, Final Gazette dissolved via voluntary strike-off notice, Companies House 15 Jan 2019.)

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