One of the key figures who helped drive the sales of a relaunched Scottish Daily Mail last night celebrated with colleagues his retirement, after 25 years with the company.
Alasdair Robertson oversaw the sales and circulation side of the paper's relaunch in the mid-1990s, which included 600,000 free copies being given away on re-launch day.
The re-launch followed a spell when only the English edition of the paper was available to Scottish readers, who once did have their own, Scottish edition. Says Robertson: “For a month, we began printing an English edition in Glasgow; the nearest print operation to Scotland prior to that having been Manchester. Of course, we were always going to produce a Scottish edition, but it was kept under wraps. We called it Project Juno, because people kept asking: 'D'you know if there's going to be a Scottish edition?' Relaunch day was Thursday, January 19 1995.”
Day two saw the paper retail for 10p. After a few weeks, it was 20p. Meanwhile, sister title, the Mail on Sunday also produced a Scottish edition, but without the same fanfare.
Robertson began in newspaper sales in 1973 with the then publishers of The Herald and Evening Times – George Outram & Co Ltd. During his time, he has also been involved in the launch of the Sunday Standard (in 1981) and the Metro in Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh (in 1999).
At the time of the Scottish Daily Mail relaunch, its circulation was 37,486 against the Daily Record's 736,674, The Herald's 113,342, The Scotsman's 83,553 and the Scottish Daily Express's 129,091.
Now, it is 131,224 against the Daily Record's 431,402, The Herald's 77,409, The Scotsman's 66,369 and the Scottish Daily Express's 78,996.
A couple of recent health scares means Alasdair – aged 58 – has decided to take an early retirement package. He leaves as Northern regional sales and circulation manager, with his remit extending from Scotland down to North Wales and Humberside.
But he is not going to be idle: he has signed up to bus, 16 hours a week, young people with physical disabilities around his home town of Hawick, in the Scottish Borders.
On Monday, he and his wife were guests of the Daily Mail owners – in the boardroom of their London HQ – to wish him a happy retirement.