Over 8,300 independent newsagents across the UK and Ireland have been rebranded in a push to sell more printed copies of The Sun and The Times.
In total News UK installed 8,000 internal units, including newspaper display stands, fishtanks and spring-loaded retention trays, 2,000 storefront fascias and 6,000 blade signs.
External fascias were produced by Glasgow-based SPD Print Solutions, Poole-based Positive Group and ASG. Leeds-based Bartuf Systems and Leicester-based ATL Associates delivered all internal units.
News UK claimed that a project of this scale, which took five months, would normally take two years. A key challenge was procuring all print suppliers in a two-week period, said Chris Duncan, director of customer sales at News UK.
"We knew when we kicked the project off that we had to procure the supplier group very very quickly because we needed their expertise to understand what the project was going to be," said Duncan.
"When we started we were probably in an ideal world looking for a single printer. But when we looked at the top five or ten by scale we realised that there was just nobody doing that volume in that period of time."
He added: "We had to get them to agree to share all of their information in one place. I have to give them credit. I was nervous about that because I thought these guys are relatively small businesses, they’re very competitive and normally that would be a problem. But they were amazing."
The rebrands were rolled out as part of News UK’s Retail+ initiative, which aims to build closer ties with independent sellers.
"Retail+ is to provide an operational contact point to make sure we’ve given newsagents a channel to talk about retail delivery times, about did they get enough papers, and to raise issues with us. It’s to put them on our list of communications," said Duncan.
"So we can tell them findings like if you have The Sun out, some showing front and some showing back pages, you’ll sell 2% more papers."
News UK initially approached 15,000 retailers for a rebrand, making over 14,000 phone calls in five months.
The result of the 8,300-plus rebrands has been half a million people seeing The Sun and The Times branding every day, claimed News UK.
"That helps us in supporting the print product and being proud of it," said Duncan. "We’re investing in the print product at a time when competitors are not."
Increasing newspaper sales can make a marked difference to retailers’ bottom lines, said News UK, quoting HiM! CTP 2013 research that 69% of shoppers buy other items in addition to a newspaper, with those buyers tending to be more loyal (the research claims that 35% of newspaper buyers visit the same store every day compared to 22% of non-newspaper buyers).
Duncan added that feedback from rebranded newsagents has so far been strong.
"The thing that we probably underestimated, was the effect on those communities. Newsagents are saying the branding has gone down well - people have come in and said ‘we love your shop’."
Neel Patel, owner of Jaysonz News, Camden, confirmed: "The main part of signage is the shop front because it is the first thing you see. It makes the shop look a lot cleaner – more inviting."
All fascias were made from dibond, were CNC routed, with vinyl lettering applied. In addition to the fascias and internal units originally planned for, News UK also found it needed to brand a large number of shop front shutters, and buy 8,000 pigeon deterrents for external blade signs.