Richard Desmond’s new purchases, the Daily and Sunday Express, have suffered serious downturns in circulation in the run-up to the latter’s relaunch this weekend, according to new ABC figures.

The figures, leaked to Campaign magazine in advance of publication, show Daily Express circulation falling below the million mark to 979,000, a drop of 6.8% year-on-year and 2.2% since last month. Meanwhile, the Sunday paper’s readership has fallen almost 10% to 879,000.

Even more worryingly, the papers’ main rivals Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday have seen year-on-year circulation rises of 5.3% and 2.7% respectively, to sales of 2.48m and 2.39m. The Mail has recently waged a ferocious campaign against the Express titles, focusing on Desmond’s links with soft porn titles such as Asian Babes and Big Ones.

The data leak coincides with this weekend’s much-anticipated revamp of the Sunday Express. The new-look title will feature a new 40-page pullout named Enjoy, covering showbiz and travel, while the Sunday magazine will be replaced by a fatter supplement branded S, featuring homes, health, food and celebrity coverage. Business and finance will also receive greater prominence with a 56-page Financial Express section replacing the 12-page Serious Money.

A silver lining to the circulation cloud was that the Express group attracted 25% more ad revenue in January than in the same period last year, a rise of £2.5m. This includes the papers’ first advertising from Harrods and the return after six years of Estée Lauder.

News Source: CampaignLive (UK)