Business Today

Jagran's big footprint

Jagran Prakashan Ltd (JPL), which has topped round two of IRS 2007 with a readership of 53.6 million for its flagship brand, Dainik Jagran, has unleashed a slew of activities that launch it into new spaces.

     Print Edition: January 27, 2008

JPLís Gupta: New formats
JPLís Gupta
The launch of Mumbai Mirror and the reasons that the Rs 4,000-crore Times Group unleashed its juggernaut are well documented; a lot of it had to do with turf threat. Jagran Prakashan Ltd (JPL), however, which has topped round two of IRS 2007 with a readership of 53.6 million for its flagship brand, Dainik Jagran, has unleashed a slew of activities that launch it into new spaces—without even a hint of threat to its core turf.

For starters, it’s been first off the block in launching a bilingual compact newspaper (Hindi and English) called I-Next in December 2006, which it claims is already the No. 2 paper after Dainik Jagran in its home market of Kanpur. “It’s turning out to be the fastest growing sub-compact paper and we will increase its network soon,” says Shailesh Gupta, Director, Marketing & Advertising, JPL. According to him, I-Next is close to becoming the No. 2 newspaper in Lucknow and Meerut as well. “Based on the success of its format, we have also launched it in Agra and Varanasi,” he says.

Jagran again opted for a untested format when it launched City Plus, an English language weekly newspaper with a print run of 50,000 copies, targeting the four NCR markets around Delhi that’s available at popular retail outlets and malls. Further, JPL ended 2007 with a 50:50 joint venture with Network18 to launch a Hindi business daily. This development is interesting given that the country’s largest English business daily, The Economic Times, is also planning a Hindi edition. It launched a Gujarati edition last year.

Close on the heels of its print foray, Jagran has beefed up its online/digital services. “We have to give credit to the group in rounding up all the allied marketing services,” says Kumar Manish, Investment Director, CTG, GroupM, pointing to Jagran’s tie-up with Yahoo to launch a Hindi portal. “Similarly, it has launched Jagran Engage to tap out-of-home advertising, Jagran Solutions for (belowthe-line marketing) and J9 Mobile that offers mobile value added services,” says Manish.

So is there any cause for worry? According to Salil Pitale, Head of Media Practice, Enam Investment Banking, the group operates in one of the largest markets, Uttar Pradesh, where it not only has leadership but extensive penetration thanks to community editions. “However, it has yet to replicate the same level of success outside it,” he says. Pitale feels what works in favour of the group is its ‘good,’ strategic tie-ups such as the one with Network18 for Hindi business daily. “Here each has dominance in their respective spaces,” he says.

But media buyers have a different view from the ground: “You cannot compare Jagran’s success in UP with that in Madhya Pradesh as they are present only in three places yet—Rewa, Indore and Bhopal. It’s not an apple-to-apple situation. Besides, the group has done well in markets such as Punjab, Bihar and Jharkhand,” points out Manish of GroupM.

To be sure, Dainik Jagran has branched out to places where it has seen a clear opportunity gap and is today even present in areas of Uttarakhand, Siliguri, Dharamshala and Jammu. This growing footprint into niche markets has afforded it a first mover advantage and has also opened up scope to offer its allied services to media partners. Not surprisingly, Jagran’s financials are looking up. Its top line for 2006-07 was Rs 622 crore with a PAT of Rs 76 crore. The figures for the first half of 2007-08 were Rs 375 crore and Rs 57 crore, respectively. Stock markets have taken note of Jagran’s performance as well and the stock has climbed steadily. That has stoked Gupta’s ambitions as well. “We want JPL to be the largest, the best, the most respected and the most trusted communications solution provider across India across a range of media platforms,” he says.

The only problem with growing big: you come in the crosshairs of larger players.

Shamni Pande

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