Metro story and Jensen interview

On Kristine Lowe’s blog there is an analysis of the Metro franchise strategy that is worth reading, it’s about Metro as the McDonald’s of newspapers, without using that name in a negative way.

I should add that the comparison is already several years old. When Metro launched in France in 2002, the paper (and competitor 20 Minutes) was greeted with angry comments from trade unions and paid newspapers, naming it the McDonald’s of the press – indicating that it was junk food compared to paid papers. Former CEO Pelle Tornberg turned that argument around and proudly called Metro the McDonald’s of newspapers that was going to steal readers from the paid press. In Ellen Spørstol’s thesis (2003) Metro and 20 Minutes were already compared to McDonalds (and Ikea).

And on the franchise-strategy, the list below shows all Metro’s with ownership/franchise structure, only five operations are fully owned, three more are majority owned (plus one Russian edition) while the Canadian Metro is a 50/50 operation. The remaining Metro’s are minority owned or pure franchise.

  • Hungary – 100% ownership
  • the Netherlands – 100% ownership
  • Greece – 100% ownership
  • Hong Kong – 100% ownership
  • Chile – 100% ownership
  • France – 67% ownership, 33% TF1
  • Sweden – 65% ownership, 35% Schibsted
  • Denmark – 51% ownership, A-Pressen 24.5%, JP/Politiken 24.5%
  • Canada – 50% ‘financial interest’ (Halifax 17%)
  • Russia – 58% ownership St. Petersburg, 1% ownership Moscow franchise
  • Mexico – franchise, 49% ownership, 51% Inmobiliaria Torraco and MX Shares
  • Czech Republic – 40% ownership, franchise, 60% Mafra
  • Korea – franchise, 30% ownership
  • Brazil – franchise, 30% ownership, 70% Grupo Bandeirantes
  • Portugal – franchise, 20% owned, 80% Holdimédia
  • Ecuador – franchise, 15% ownership, 85% Grupo Hoy
  • Italy – franchise, owned by New Media Enterprise
  • Finland – franchise, owned by Sanoma
  • USA – franchise, owned by Seabay Media Holdings
  • Ireland (a Metro UK operation, 10% ownership, about to be sold)
  • Closed down: UK, Switzerland, Argentina, Poland, Croatia, Spain

Also Lowe’s interview with Metro’s CEO Per Mikael Jensen on journalisten.no is a good read (use Google translate). Jensen seems not too happy with the media coverage Metro is getting and explains why even ‘red’ quarterly figures can be good news. He also takes a hit at the Icelandic ‘cowboys’ of Nyhedsavisen and Boston Now.

3 Responses to “Metro story and Jensen interview”

  1. Kristine Says:

    Many thanks for this: it’s a very useful overview. I had no idea the comparison between Metro and McDondald’s had been used before, it was just something that struck me the other day and I didn’t Google or try for a Lexis Nexis search, but it makes sense. I can’t really see the similarities with Ikea though, but I’m looking forward to reading the thesis you mention when I have more time. I’ve been offline, immersed in other projects, until about now, so will return to this on Twitter in the morning I think.

  2. Piet Bakker Says:

    Supporting the franchise / partnership hypothesis is the fact that several operations were in fact fully or majority owned in the past: Italy, USA, Portugal, Czech Republic and Finland; while some of the majority owned now (Sweden, Denmark) were fully owned in the past.

    While there was a strategy to increase ownership in the past (Hungary, the Netherlands), that seems to be reversed now (although in St. Petersburg ownership increased).

    Some franchises or minority ownership operations are the result of legal issues, particularly a ban on foreign ownership (Brazil, Mexico) or tax reasons (Canada).

  3. Newspaper Innovation » Blog Archive » 15 years of Metro Says:

    [...] ownership to franchise. Full ownership is now a minorry ownership model for Metro. See a previous post for a list of ownership models in different countries. Franchise or minority is the dominant model [...]