Metro Spain closes after 8 years

Despite the laughing face on the cover of Thursday 29 January’s Metro, it must have been a sad day for those working for the second national Spanish newspaper.

Metro Spain closed down the remaining seven editions last Thursday. The reasons being the recession and the fierce competition among four national free dailies. The January sales were down 60% compared to the year before, the same was expected for the next months.

According to Metro, the paper made a profit 2004. In 2005 (Qué!) and in 2006 (ADN) new competitors entered the market. Free daily 20 Minutos was already launched – as “Madrid / Barcelona y Mas” – in 2000

Apart from the 4 national free dailies also free business dailies and almost two dozen local free dailies are published in Spain.

The Metro press release:

… with increased competition and a steadily declining advertising market the operation has been experiencing losses during the last years. Several merger opportunities have been investigated during 2008, however, the size of the combined losses of the Spanish free press market made it extremely difficult to find an alternative that would have improved the future financial performance of Metro Spain.

Metro International has invested € 25.5 million in Metro Spain up until the closure of the business announced on 29th January 2009. The closure is expected to give rise to a book loss of between € 5-6 million which includes non-cash items. The cost of closing Metro Spain will be accounted for in Metro International’s results for the first quarter 2009.

Metro was launched in 2001 in Barcelona and Madrid. In 2003 Sevilla, Zaragoza, and La Coruna were launched, followed by Alicante and Valencia in 2004. In 2005 Castilla la Mancha, Malaga, Elche and a national edition were launched. In the same year management was replaced because of ‘unhealthy’ outsourcing contracts.

Alicante, Valencia, Castilla la Mancha and Elche were operated together with local publisher Ediciones Primera Plana de Alicante, S.L. (El Periódico de Alicante).

After the launch of ADN in January 2006 Metro started in Bilbao, Castellon and the Canary Islands; the last as a franchise by online paper Canarias Ahora.

Malaga and Elche closed down in 2005 and 2007. In November 2008 Zaragoza, La Coruna, Bilbao and the Canary Islands editions were shut down. The last national edition was published on 23 December 2008.

In the closure, which will take three months to complete, more than 80 fte’s will be lost.

The remaining 7 editions had a combined circulation of around 600,000. With the closure of Metro, the market share of free dailies in Spain dropped below the 50%.

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