Vasp, a press distribution company, was founded in February 1975 to solve the distribution problems faced by the weekly Expresso (Portugal’s current highest circulation newspaper).
At that time, Expresso was distributed through a daily newspaper’s distribution structure. For political reasons, an attempt was made through the newspaper’s distribution to undermine Expresso’s success: by creating financial difficulties arising from the newspaper’s distribution and thereby jeopardising its feasibility. An alternative had to be found to resolve the situation.
The businessman Plácido Sotto, who until then had been involved in press-related enterprises, was encouraged to set up a press distribution company. Vasp was thus founded and began distributing the weekly Tempo which, three months later, was joined by Expresso.
The circumstances behind Vasp’s origin would influence its role as a press distributor during its whole existence. By distributing quality publications, thus making them feasible, it gave readers access to a new range of products. In playing this essential role in Portugal, it gave people more options to exercise their rights and helped create a freer press.
Since it began operating, Vasp progressively extended its portfolio of publishers and publications. An essential landmark in this process took place in 1979 through the emergence of the daily Correio da Manhã (currently Portugal’s top-selling and most read newspaper) followed, some time later, by the magazine Selecções do Reader's Digest.
Nearly one decade after its foundation, and after an initial period of heroic effort, it was now time to make the whole company’s management more professional. In 1984, Vasp’s four main publications – Expresso, Tempo, Correio da Manhã and Selecções do Reader's Digest – took over the company’s control by setting up a more professional management structure that would boost the organisation’s business and performance.
During the 80s and 90s, Vasp slowly built a market reputation based on professionalism and reliable service rendered to all its publishers, whilst helping to pioneer the very development of the press market.
The decentralisation of its logistics and commercial structure, the informatization of its services, along with the development of new sales channels for publications, such as hypermarkets and supermarkets, were merely some of the many sure-footed and consistent steps on this path of success.
Aware of its permanent need to overcome market challenges and to maintain a competitive edge over its competitors, in 1997 Vasp implemented a Quality Management System that was certified in June 2000 by APCER (Portugal’s main quality management systems certification entity) according to Standard ISO 9002 (a certification that has been progressively renewed – currently, the Quality Management System is certified by Standard ISO 9000).
In 2001, the VASP shareholders (the IMPRESA and COFINA Groups) signed an agreement with the LUSOMUNDO Group (of the Portugal Telecom universe) in order to concentrate in Vasp the operations of Deltapress, its competitor until that time. This concentration created Portugal’s largest press distributor with an annual turnover of 250 million euros (2006 data).
By continuing to focus on innovation, Vasp maintained its edge over competitors in the 21st century through a high rate of structural breakthroughs in Portugal’s press distribution market. It began collecting surplus copies of daily newspapers and weekly magazines on a daily rather than weekly basis – which greatly improved sales information reliability and timing. It introduced a credit insurance (called “Garantia +”) that improved the distributor’s credit risk management and significantly lowered costs and expenses of points of sale previously spent on bank guarantees. In 2007, it also launched the largest relationship marketing project in Portugal by a press distributor (called “Quiosque dos Milhões”) [Kiosk of Millions]. These are merely some of those projects with a far-reaching impact.
As the business became more complex, and in order to continuously improve the service rendered to its clients and increase the yield for its shareholders, Vasp diversified the scope of its activities, but always maintaining the press as its core business. In 2006, Vasp Premium was founded, a new business unit specialised in subscription management and direct marketing actions, which quickly became the market leader for these services. In 2007, this new business unit took a further step in its development by obtaining a licence from ANACOM (Portuguese telecommunications and mail authority) to carry out national and international postal operations. In 2007, two other business units were created: TMK – Soluções de Trademarketing, specialised in developing sales promotion and development projects in press sales channels, and DPS – Digital Printing Services, specialised in digital printing of newspapers and business documents.
Committed to carrying out its mission of
"Helping to maximise consumption of published products in Portugal, in close partnership with publishers and points of sale, in an environment of ongoing innovation and improvement,"
in the 21st century, Vasp has gained strength from its success in the last 3 decades and is now ready to continue fulfilling the goals of its founders: helping quality publishing projects to become successful, guaranteeing public access to them and meeting public needs in this field.