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Gujarat Samachar beefs up team and product

By , agencyfaqs! | In | May 05, 2003
With competition knocking on its doors, Gujarat Samachar, the 70-year old Gujarati daily, is bracing up for the challenge


Competition can move mountains. In this case, the monolith is 70-year old Gujarati daily, Gujarat Samachar, which has awakened to the need for change both at the product and team levels, as Hindi publication group Dainik Bhaskar gears up to enter the market with Divya Bhaskar, a Gujarati daily, to be launched in the last week of June.

Kumar Nirmalendu, erstwhile regional head (west) at Hindi daily, Amar Ujala is now general manager, all-India marketing at Gujarat Samachar, a sweeping change considering that Samachar has been more region-specific with a team of 10 marketing executives in Gujarat and a skeletal staff of six comprising the all-India marketing team.

The strength of the local and national teams has been beefed up to 22 and 16 with the induction of Nirmalendu, who has a decade's experience in print, on March 2. Also to join Samachar from Amar Ujala is Arun Tyagi, deputy manager (west), who moved as regional manager, west, on May 1.

"With changing times, we felt the need for change," explains Nirmalendu in his first full-length interview since joining Samachar. "Gujarat Samachar is getting a facelift in terms of its design and layout as well as how we view or look at business."

The implication of this statement is clear: From being inward looking, the emphasis today is on servicing readers, advertisers and agencies. "We are looking at a very different Gujarat Samachar where value-addition is crucial - whether it is in terms of reader-friendly schemes or marketing schemes. Technology is being upgraded; the way the product appears to readers is being fine-tuned. The thrust for us is to provide the best," Nirmalendu adds.

Promoted by brothers Bahubali Shah and Shreyansh Shah, Gujarat Samachar has been operating more as a close-knit, family-run business with older brother Shreyansh Shah involved in editorial and younger brother Bahubali Shah in charge of marketing.

Realising the potential of the market and the need to tap untapped areas, Ahmedabad-based Gujarat Samachar went on an aggressive expansion drive in the last decade, launching city-based editions in different parts of the state. Today, the group boasts of six editions including Ahmedabad, Baroda, Surat, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Mumbai, as well as two satellite editions in Mehsana and Kheda, which are districts adjoining Ahmedabad.

Its circulation, according to ABC for the period of July to December 2002, stands at 10.47 lakh with a city-wise break-up as follows: Ahmedabad - 4.21 lakh, Baroda - 1.45 lakh, Surat - 1.38 lakh, Rajkot - 1.45 lakh, Bhavnagar - 41,561 copies and Mumbai - 1.98 lakh, which shoots up to 2.17 lakh on Sundays. "On an average, circulation of all editions jump by about 4 to 5 per cent on Sundays," reiterates Nirmalendu.

The gap between Samachar and archrival Sandesh, however, is not very wide with the latter clocking a total circulation of 7.58 lakh copies, according to ABC, for the period of July to December 2002.

Competition between the two is known to be fierce with Sandesh promoted by Falgun Patel leading in Baroda and Surat while Samachar is ahead of its rival in Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Bhavnagar.

In Mumbai, Gujarat Samachar frequently locks horns with Bombay Samachar, the Gujarati paper published out of the city, whose circulation, according to ABC, stands at 1.12 lakh for the period of July to December 2002.

Thus, with a comfortable lead in most of the centres, the challenge for the group, according to Nirmalendu, is to produce a product that has a blend of the serious and youthful. "The main issue will be editorially-driven with a serious tone to it while the supplements or magazines (popularly called Poorti) will be youthful in flavour targeting a cross-section of people."

In keeping with this strategy, the group recently launched a "vibrant supplement" called Hello Ahmedabad with a thrust on "infotainment". The paper, on an average, comprises 24 pages (main issue plus supplement) with the main issue divided into two sections, the first comprising 12 pages and the second, a pullout of four pages, containing the edit page as well.

"We are not really looking at a variation in content," asserts Nirmalendu. "The task is to increase its appeal in terms of design and layout, which was initiated a month ago, and of course, focus on servicing," he adds. © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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