In Rare Failure, Free Dailies Publisher Metro Folds Poland Paper

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By: E&P Staff

Metro International S.A., the high-flying publisher of free commuter dailies around the world, announced a rare reversal of fortune Monday, saying it had folded the paper that served several Polish cities.

Metro said the last edition of Metropol was published last Friday. It said Metro lost $3.7 million in 2006.

“Despite local management’s success in establishing Metropol as a trusted and innovative newspaper on the Polish media scene, Metro Poland has failed to meet the required profitability and growth criteria set for each of our operations,” Metro International President and CEO Pelle Tornberg said in a statement. “We have thus taken the decision to exit the Polish market and close down Metropol in order to focus our resources on higher growth and larger scale strategic markets.”

Metro publishes free papers in more than 100 cities in 20 countries in Europe, North and South America, and Asia — often roiling the newspapers that traditionally dominated the markets it enters. In the U.S., it publishes free dailies in New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia. Metro says its advertising sales have grown at a compound annual rate of 44% since the launch of the first edition in 1995.

Metro published the Polish paper Metropol through a wholly-owned subsidiary that it said it was shutting down.

Metropol was launched in Warsaw in 2000, and quickly became one of Poland’s biggest dailies. But the paper’s financial performance has been below expectations, Metro said, “and local market conditions have proved difficult for the press sector as a whole and the free press sector in particular.”

Metro Poland had 70 full-time employees, revenues of $5.2 million and pre-tax losses of $3.7 million.

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