The Independent may go free in London, and may merge some of its operations with the Evening Standard, the Financial Times reported. Evgeny Lebedev, son of Alexander and chairman of Independent Print, told the FT that he was considering a range of strategies to make the newspaper profitable.
The Lebedevs bought the Independent in March, having acquired London's The Evening Standard at the start of last year. The FT noted that the Independent and its Sunday partner, the Independent on Sunday, have the lowest circulation among the UK quality dailies, and Lebedev told the FT that "we will have to do something. The Independent can't stay in its present form because it will continue losing money."
The Evening Standard went free in October 2009, and Lebedev told the FT that the new model was paying off. Two free London papers closed last summer, leaving the way free for the ES. If the Independent followed suit it would be in the same area, within London's M25. Lebedev also mentioned the possibility of "finding synergies between the two papers" but said that a full merger of the papers would be unlikely.
Just after the Lebedevs bought the paper it underwent a substantial redesign, led by editor-in-chief Simon Kelner, introducing a 20-page 'viewspaper." Kelner will only hold the position for an interim period, Lebedev told the FT, specifying that this period could be a few months or a few years.
Will the Independent be able to make a comeback? Could it become Britain's first free quality daily? Some good news for the paper came with the release of April ABCs: the Independent on Sunday was the only Sunday quality paper to post a year-on-year rise and boasted an 18.9% rise in paid-for-circulation.