ABC FIGURES: Ideal Home keeps top spot within home interest sector

Changing Rooms' Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Carol Smillie kick-started the home interest boom that has epitomised TV programmes in recent times. But now it is the specialist magazines in the driving seat, which have seen a growth of almost 25 per cent on last year's figures.

Rising house prices, low interest rates and a young generation of home improvers are combining to boost the sector. The growth of the middle and upmarket titles is a result of DIY becoming an activity to be enjoyed, rather than endured.

IPC's Ideal Home continues to lead the field, recording its highest-ever circulation figure of 277,105 and outselling its nearest rival, The National Magazine Company's House Beautiful, on newsstands by more than 105,000 copies.

Homes & Gardens, an IPC stablemate of Ideal Home, has also sustained its position. The monthly title has achieved its second successive ABC rise, retaining its leading position in the upmarket traditional sector.

The leading titles, however, should be well aware that their growth depends on how well their content continues to reflect evolving consumer attitudes to home improvement, and the demand for a quality look and finish.

While Changing Rooms tapped into a rich vein of interest, new research suggests viewers perceive its £500 makeovers as "cheap and cheerful".

Yvonne Ramsden, IPC SouthBank's publishing director, said: "People are moving on from Changing Rooms to property development and investment.

That's what is stimulating so much interest. The success of Ideal Home is a real demonstration of the high editorial content.

"It's not just about sticking up shelves any more. People's focus is now on aesthetics, design and colour."

NatMags' Your Home had the most disappointing results in the sector, suffering the biggest year-on-year slump of nearly 25 per cent, while similarly being down nearly 20 per cent period on period.

Verdict The sector looks resilient enough to ride out any predicted slump in the UK property market as consumers' interest in decorating their homes shows no sign of abating.

But titles operating in such an aspirational market will need to keep their fingers on the pulse.

The most vulnerable magazines are likely to be those at the practical end of the scale, as most readers are now looking for far more than just handy hints.

HOME INTEREST MAGAZINES

Title Publisher Total ABC Period on Year on

period % year %

Ideal Home IPC 277,105 0.4 13.2

House Beautiful NatMags 170,019 -10.3 -11.6

Country Living NatMags 164,079 0.6 1.2

Homes & Gardens IPC 157,981 1.2 6.7

Homes & Antiques BBC 150,454 -6.3 -9.0

House & Garden Conde Nast 148,544 0.0 1.4

Real Homes Mag Cabal 137,595 3.4 -2.8

25 Beautiful Homes IPC 134,511 0.5 7.0

BBC Good Homes BBC 116,468 -7.1 -4.0

Your Home NatMags 115,111 -19.7 -24.5

Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations (July-December 2002)

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