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THE HISTORY OF THE NEWS SHOPPER NEWSPAPER
On January 21, 1965, a group of five people gathered in West London with a view to launching a revolutionary newspaper in Orpington - revolutionary in the fact that it was to be free.
The office, above a down town market hairdressers in Chislehurst Road, had been chosen.
Staff requirements had been set up at one manager, one reporter, one advertising representative, a secretary, a part-time distribution manager, photographer and fashion writer, and 140 boys to deliver the 29,000 copies.
The five founders were Richard Addison, an advertising salesman; Gerald McKnight, onetime editor of the Sunday Dispatch; David English, later to become Sir David English, El supremo of the Daily Mail; and South African millionaire lawyers Rayne Kruger and Anthony Aaronson.
These five are the reason The News Shopper is here today.
The paper was helped greatly in its early days by nationally known names that contributed editorial features free of charge.
The McQuirter twins of the Guinness Book of Records fame wrote regularly, as did Lord Ted Willis.
During the first five years more editions were launched. These were expensive and it would be some time before any money was forthcoming from expansion.
Thus it was something of a relief when Rupert Murdoch arrived from Australia in August 1969 to buy the paper and two similar publications in Blackpool and Cardiff.
Ownership by News International meant the weekly News Shopper losses, once the source of bankruptcy fears, were abated.
Offices were found in Romford and an edition of 35,000 launched.
Barking and Dagenham followed with a Croydon office and three more editions.
The Ilford edition was launched giving News Shopper a presence of 100,000 in Essex. The Barnet, Edmonton and Finchley another 100,000 boost in circulation, followed by offices in Kingston which produced an edition for Twickenham, Richmond and Merton. News Shopper total circulation was 590,000 weekly - it was the largest free paper in England with a staff of 200.
THE EARLY YEARS
Unsurprisingly News Shopper was totally chaotic in its formative years. In 1968 the only filing system for invoices was to put them all in a bath in one of the rooms at head office.
Few people bothered to pay their bills and losses were sustained at the end of each of the first five years.
There were problems getting advertising before the Friday afternoon deadline when prices would be lowered, distribution had problems with paper boys dumping papers, and production was ruled with a hand of iron by a fiery woman whose office many of the advertising reps were too scared to go into.
The departure of Rupert Murdoch to the States saw Berrows Newspaper in Worcester, the world's oldest weekly paper and now part of Reed Midland Papers, given the dubious task of being responsible for the News Shopper.
The various editions around London had been performing badly, so they were closed, leaving just six editions in Kent.
It was a surprise in November 1975, when owners of the Surrey Advertiser, the Murray family, approached News Shopper with a view to buying.
The paper changed hands for little more than what display advertising takes in each week now.
In comparison to today's bumper issues, in 1975 News Shopper's pagination rarely rose above 16 pages.
The late 70s saw the News Shopper lay the foundations on which today's large editions were built.
In April 1980, the same year as editor Sandra Graffham joined the company, News Shopper achieved its first ever 40-page paper.
News Shopper was sold again, before changing hands in 1984 when it was sold to Reed International.
Advertising director, Peter Le Patourel joined at this point and the pagination of the paper continued to grow to over 100 pages.
In 1985 the award winning magazine Finesse was launched, and three years later another launch, this time into Greenwich, Woolwich and Dartford, saw circulation increased to its current 346,530.
Fittingly, in its jubilee year, 1990, News Shopper moved from Its old, cramped offices in Orpington High Street, to its current home in Petts Wood where it continued to develop and grow.
Editorially the products went from strength to strength with teams of reporters writing the news each week for the then ten editions.
The papers were constantly under review for ways to improve the content for readers.
These developments meant it was, more than ever, a serious competitor against paid for local papers such as the South London Mercury and Kentish Times.
Reed International sold the News Shopper in a 'management buy-out' and in April 1996 it became part of Newsquest. On June 18th, 1997, the News Shopper launched a brand new edition in Gravesend.
Then in 1998, Newsquest was acquired by Gannett - the owners of USA Today. This has given News Shopper the backing of the largest newspaper publisher in the United States.
THE NEW MILLENNIUM
London's oldest and best-known free newspaper has continued to expand and develop.
The 21st Century has seen more new editions launched - there are currently eight print editions of News Shopper - and the paper given a fresh, new look.
Group editor Andrew Parkes says: "The News Shopper has developed to become a much-loved and important part of the local community - everyone looks forward to receiving their Shopper."
News Shopper's award-winning website newsshopper.co.uk, which launched in the late 1990s, has grown rapidly over the past few years.
The website now provides the very latest news seven days a week, and also provides a huge wealth of local information.