De Pers was started by the millionaire and only Dutch press baron after the Second World War Marcel Boekhoorn. He gained his fortune, amongst others, by buying the telecom company Telfort and selling it to the Dutch incumbent KPN. He was convinced on the basis of a business plan by the publisher Cornelis van den Berg, that the free newspaper would make other newspapers superfluous and upset the Dutch media landscape. Boekhoorn believed in the dream and pumped millions of euro in his dream.
When De Pers was launched on January 23, 2007 there were three free newspapers in the market: Metro and Sp!ts. Metro was started with the help of the Dutch railway company, while Sp!ts was the answer to Metro by the largest Dutch newspaper company De Telegraaf. Later the three were joined byDag, which was a lukewarm attempt by the ailing Perscombinatie (PCM) and did not see its first anniversary.
De Pers started to build up its circulation carefully, going from an urban distribution to a national distribution and from a six days in the week distribution to a five working days edition.
De Pers had a rough ride. It was praised by the readers as a quality paper, however the advising companies never really believed in it. The economic trend downwards since 2008 up to 2012 did not help. In 2009 the commercial exploitation was outsourced for 13 years to the Wegener company, specialised in regional newspapers, for a 16 million euro fee. For Wegener, De Pers was supposed to function as a magnet to attract national advertisements, which also would have an effect on the regional Wegener newspapers. Also the printing, distribution, IT and editorial staffs would cooperate with each other. But Wegener was in its own economic turmoil and did not make any hay on the advertisement market.
Wegener was unable to earn the 16 million euro fee and the turn over got stuck on only a few million euro. Wegener and Boekhoorn’s company Mountain Media have now agreed to stop De Pers. Wegener will pay 45 million euro to Mountain Media. This money will be used to buy off financial obligations against suppliers and 45 people editorial staff.
It is a pity that De Pers will disappear from the Dutch market due to the turmoil at Wegener. This morning De Pers published a press release, informing the market that De Pers is for sale. This operspective is not very encouraging, but the editorial staff could be an asset to an internet publication.
Recently the newspaper published a pdf with the best articles (in Dutch) of the past five years.