Competition for weekend readers is about to hot up between rival regional dailies as they both overhaul their Saturday papers.
For the Mail, the release brought to a close a week-long roll-out of changes at the Trinity Mirror title designed to boost readership.
The paper also unveiled its new design last week, with other changes including the launch of the e-edition and improvements to the website – and the launch of its new part-free Friday edition, giving away 50,000 copies of the newspaper.
Around 46,000 copies of the Friday edition were given away at 31 special distribution points across the city centre, while a further 4,000 copies were available free at selected retail outlets.
It featured sections on where to eat and shop, alongside fashion features and two redesigned pull-outs – entertainment supplement Friday Live and the property section.
Trinity Mirror Midlands editor-in-chief and Mail editor David Brookes praised the new look, which includes a new masthead, and said something new had been introduced every day of the week.
“A lot of dedicated journalists have worked hard getting the content and style just right and the whole Friday package looks fantastic.”
The Mail’s revamped Saturday paper will go up in price from 50p to 70p. It includes a 56-page glossy 7-day TV magazine and a 32-page leisure and lifestyle pull-out, alongside 40 pages of local news and sport.
In a similar move, the Express & Star has also revealed plans for a similar overhaul of its Saturday edition, as has its sister paper the Shropshire Star.
The new paper, to launch on April 20, will be rebranded the ‘Weekend’ edition and will feature a new supplement featuring a full weekly TV guide, entertainment and lifestyle features, as well as new columnists and several puzzles pages.
It too will come with an increase in price, from 45p to 60p. The midweek price of both papers will stay the same.
However, a spokesman for publishers Midland News Association denied that the relaunch of the Saturday Express & Star and Shropshire Star was a response to the Birmingham Mail’s announcement in February.
“It has been in development since the autumn of 2012,” he said.
A Trinity Mirror spokesman declined to comment.
A journalist who has worked for both papers in the past told HTFP: “Historically, the Express & Star and Birmingham Mail have been fierce rivals, especially in the Black Country and Staffordshire.
“But as the Birmingham Mail has now retreated very much to the city, and the Express & Star itself has done some retrenching, their patches barely overlap any more. I can’t imagine they have much need to compete, really.
“However, it does seem a strange coincidence that they have both decided to bring out bigger Saturday editions, with similar new supplements, at around the same time.”