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Maps sales and margins

Request for information – FOI13436

Thank you for your e-mails requesting information from Ordnance Survey in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000.

We respond to each of your points as follows:

1) What is the wholesale price of your paper map products for retail resale?

This information is held by Ordnance Survey but is exempt under Section 21 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000 'Information accessible to applicant by other means'.

The reason this information is exempt, is because it is already made available on our website and therefore the public domain. You can find this information in our framework trade agreement PDF.

2) How many Ordnance Survey paper maps were sold last year, and in the three preceding years?

3) What breakdown can you give me for:

a) channels: book shops, outdoor leisure outlets, tourist information, online

b) Explorer, Landranger, waterproof

The information to respond to both the above questions is held by Ordnance Survey, but we consider it to be exempt from disclosure under Section 43 (2) of the FOIA – Commercial Interests.

Ordnance Survey, whilst being an Executive Agency, has trading fund status which means that it is required by Statute to fund all of its operations, investments and financial obligations to the British Government from the revenue it generates from licensing the Intellectual Property in its data and from sales, including sales of paper mapping. Ordnance Survey must therefore protect its commercial interests.

Ordnance Survey's Public Task is to create, maintain and disseminate consistent, definitive and authoritative geospatial and cartographic data and products of Great Britain in the national interest. Ordnance Survey is required to produce a full range of paper map titles offering complete coverage of Great Britain. However, a recent change to our license model allows other organisations (including competitors) to access and resell some Ordnance Survey mapping, therefore Ordnance Survey must limit the opportunities for commercial detriment. By providing the detailed information you request would mean it could be unfairly used by competitors to target their efforts.

Competitors in the paper map market are not required to produce a full range of titles, and can specifically choose the area which they wish to target competing products, which could undermine our market position and cause commercial detriment to our products and could undermine our ability to continue to publish a full series.

4) Do you have an analysis of your paper map end-user base please (how many maps, how often used, main sport, etc)?

Ordnance Survey does hold information relating to our map end-user base, but this is also exempt from disclosure under Section 43 (2) – Commercial Interests. We consider this information is exempt from disclosure and detail our reasons below.

We periodically commission and pay for bespoke research to be undertaken to provide end-user information for the purpose of reducing risk to the business. The release of such information would provide an unfair knowledge advantage to those paper map competitors, and Ordnance Survey should seek to limit the opportunities for commercial detriment.

In addition, Ordnance Survey Leisure holds some customer information from our customer database, through purchases made via our online map shop. This information is exempt under Section 40 – Personal Information.

Section 40 (2) (a) and (b), together with the condition under section 40 (3) (a) (i) of the FOIA, provides an absolute exemption, where the disclosure of information would contravene any of the data protection principles under the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998. The above sections exempt information constituting the personal data of living individuals, the release of which would be in breach of the Data Protection Principles.

In applying this exemption, we have considered whether disclosure of the personal data in question would be 'fair' (as described in Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act). We have given particular consideration to the likely expectations of the data subject regarding the disclosure of their information in this manner.

Public interest
We are aware there is general public interest for disclosure of information under accountability and transparency, but this has to be balanced against the factors allowing an organisation to be able to conduct their business fairly and with integrity.

Against this there is a public interest in ensuring businesses are not damaged or undermined by the disclosure of information which is not common knowledge, and which could adversely impact from a competitive or commercial perspective.

We have also given thought to the necessity for Ordnance Survey to compete fairly in the business arena and not provide an unfair commercial advantage to others, or place ourselves at a commercial disadvantage by the release of sensitive commercial information, which could undermine the sustainability of maintaining the national mapping series, for which there is no public interest.

We are satisfied there is greater public interest in withholding the requested information in this instance.

Internal review
Your enquiry has been processed according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000. If you are unhappy with our response, you may request an internal review with our FOI Internal Review Officer, by contacting them as follows:

FOI Internal Review Officer
Customer Service Centre
Ordnance Survey
Adanac Drive
SO16 0AS

E-mail: foi@ordnancesurvey.co.uk

Please include the reference number above. You may request an internal review where you believe Ordnance Survey has:

  • Failed to respond to your request within the time limits (normally 20 working days)
  • Failed to tell you whether or not we hold the information
  • Failed to provide the information you have requested
  • Failed to explain the reasons for refusing a request
  • Failed to correctly apply an exemption or exception

The FOI Internal Review Officer will not have been involved in the original decision. They will conduct an independent internal review and will inform you of the outcome of the review normally within 20 working days, but exceptionally within 40 working days, in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidance.

The FOI Internal Review Officer will either: uphold the original decision, provide an additional explanation of the exemption/s applied or release further information, if it is considered appropriate to do so.

Appeal to Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
If, following the outcome of the internal review you remain unhappy with our response, you may raise an appeal with the Information Commissioner’s Office at:

The Case Reception Unit
Customer Service Team
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

E-mail: mail@ico.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone helpline: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745 for advice, Monday to Friday.

Thank you for your enquiry.

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