Pune is all set to see a print war of its own. In line with its recent announcement of embarking on a phase-wise national expansion plan, DNA is all geared to launch a Pune edition in the first quarter of 2008. It is also learnt that BCCL has a Pune Mirror planned in January 2008.
For DNA, after Mumbai and Ahmedabad, Pune is the next full-fledged edition. DNA has huge plans for its financial offering as well. The daily had experimented with DNA Money, when it decided to sell the supplement standalone in the Indore market. K U Rao, CEO, DNA, informed, “At present, DNA Money continues to be a financial supplement from the paper. However, there are various options that we have for a financial product, including tying up with an international partner and launching a pink daily with a different branding. We are looking into these options.”
The Pune edition is the current focus area for DNA. The teams are in place, but Rao divulged that the company was in the process of identifying a Branch Head as well. DNA is looking at creating a team of around 70 people for all its departments in Pune. The Branch Head would be responsible for the P&L (profit and loss) of the Pune edition.
Rao further said that the overall target was to make DNA a Rs 1,000 crore company by 2011, and the Pune edition would give around 10 per cent of that number. “We believe that we are already the No. 2 player in revenue leadership in Mumbai, and we want revenue leadership in Pune in the next two years’ time,” he maintained.
DNA expects to launch its printing press facility in Pune by April-May 2008, and until this is in place, the Pune edition would be printed from Mumbai. Rao also explained that as per the agenda, the western market was a priority, followed by the northern markets.
Rao is clear that even as a large part of the Pune edition would have similar content as the Mumbai edition, the daily would be custom designed for Pune readers. “Same is the case in Ahmedabad as well,” he said, adding, “Research guides us in these decisions and allows us to get a better fix on what people want. We want to meet people’s expectations in each market that we enter.”
When asked further on a target date for the next DNA editions, Rao only said, “Expansion for us is not a function of capital but of getting the right resources. As and when we identify the right teams in the various markets, we can enter these markets. We are looking at putting together a force of 1,500 people across all markets, and this is quite a number.”
After all the action seen from DNA in 2005, it is only in the last two months that DNA seems to be taking strides in the way forward. Why was there such a gap in launching these new editions? Rao replied, “There have been unfair expectations from us. Which other mainline daily has launched any edition in the last two years? No paper has grown faster than DNA.”
The paper, however, did see the loss of some senior resources in the form of Gautam Adhikari (Editor, DNA) and Suresh Balakrishnan (CMO, DNA), who were with the paper ever since the Mumbai launch. Did this loss create any impact? “The attrition rate in DNA has been far lower than any other paper. People movements happen in every company, and that is not going to stop the company from operating. That said, there really is only one senior resource, in the true sense of the word, in any company, and that is the Chairman of the Board of Directors,” Rao maintained.
He added that he saw DNA as a trendsetter now. “It is encouraging the way competition, and the so-called established players, copy us in every aspect – content, pricing, format. This only shows that newspapers are changing and progressing. There are more new players entering the domain now, and we believe that this is a good thing for the industry, and would benefit everyone involved,” Rao said.