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New-look weekend editions for top-selling dailies

Two of the UK’s top-selling regional dailies will relaunch their Saturday editions, increasing cover price by a third.

The Express & Star and sister paper the Shropshire Star will double pagination from 40 pages to 80, and both will feature a new supplement featuring a full weekly TV guide, entertainment and lifestyle features, as well as new columnists and several puzzles pages.

Two journalists have been appointed to work towards the new editions, rebranded as the ‘Weekend’ editions, and will be responsible for bringing in more local news stories, sport and entertainment.

The price will rise from its current 45p to 60p on a Saturday.

Phil Inman, managing director at publisher the Midland News Association, said the company had made a “five-figure” investment in promoting the new-look papers ahead of the launch date of April 20.

“The MNA is investing in the Saturday editions to deliver even better newspapers to the hundreds of thousands of readers who take time to enjoy our titles each weekend,” he said.

Dummy front pages drawn up to show how the new-look Weekend editions of the Express & Star and Shropshire Star will look

“Focus group research has shown an overwhelmingly positive response to the early dummy editions, which included more local news, more local sport and increased entertainment coverage for the region.

“We firmly believe we have a product to be proud of. We have made a substantial five figure investment in a comprehensive communications campaign to promote the bigger and better Weekend editions.”

The promotional campaign includes 25 billboard adverts being placed across the West Midlands and Shropshire, displaying the message ‘The Weekend has Landed’.

Subscribers will also be able to get the first four editions at no extra cost, paying the current 45p price.

The launch is the latest high profile development at the MNA, which became the first UK publisher to launch a recruitment agency when Star Employment Services opened in January.

The company also laid claim to launching the UK’s first responsive regional news websites when new layouts for and were launched last year.

The advertising billboard for the Express & Star's relaunched Saturday edition