The sector is up by around 5 per cent year on year and, with no launches into the sector during the year, this growth has all been organic.
Jackie Newcombe, Marie Claire's publishing director, explains: "The spectre of competitors about to launch into the market has made everyone up their game. Everyone has innovated and put their money where their mouth is and we've ended up with a sector that is delivering what readers really want."
The top spot is still occupied by Glamour, Conde Nast's seemingly unstoppable handbag-sized title. With sales up 6.5 per cent year on year, standing at 142,000 more than its closest rival, Cosmopolitan, it remains untouched by the rest of the market.
However, a Cosmo fightback began this year, reflected in improved figures.
The title recorded its highest ABC figure for 24 years and, with a 4.8 per cent period-on-period increase, the direction taken by its new editor, Sam Baker, seems to have paid off. Cosmo is set to launch a marketing campaign this year and Jan Adcock, Cosmo's group publishing director, says: "This upturn - before our communications strategy even comes into play - suggests we have even more exciting times ahead of us."
Marie Claire, IPC Media's flagship women's glossy, put in a strong performance, with a 6.6 per cent year-on-year growth. The title has also had a facelift and was relaunched in September with a lower price of £2.50.
With Emap's focus on the launch of its weekly glossy, Grazia, its monthly title, New Woman, hasn't yet received the investment enjoyed by its rival titles. Its year-on-year figure was down 3.5 per cent, but there are plans for a redesign in April.
In the thirtysomething market, Hachette Filipacchi's Red was the real winner. With a 6.8 per cent year-on-year increase, it overtook Conde Nast's Vogue, Essential Publishing's Real and its sister Hachette title Elle.
IPC's InStyle UK also did well, up 2 per cent year on year, while Eve, the magazine recently sold by BBC Magazines to Haymarket Publishing, saw its fourth consecutive double-digit percentage growth in sales.
Jessica Gibson, the publisher of Eve, explains that the magazine's cover-mounting strategy is not the only driver of this growth. "Our subscriptions and actively purchased figures are up and our growth is double that of our nearest competitor, even though we've done nothing different this period," she says.
Things are set to be done differently under Eve's new owner. Haymarket is keen to make the magazine the flagship title in its new women's lifestyle division. "The major difference will be that Eve will go international with Haymarket and, while we will continue our growth in the UK, there are now sizeable opportunities in other markets," Gibson explains.This is set to start soon, as Haymarket gears up to launch Eve in the US later in the year.
In the younger market, Hachette's B magazine was a success and, following a double-digit decline in the last ABCs, its relaunch has seen sales leap almost 30 per cent period on period.
Julie Harris, the general manager of Hachette's women's group, says: "This ABC result, the first full set of figures since the relaunch in June, is just reward for the work the team has done. We intend to continue this growth over the next 12 months."
Verdict - Despite having worked hard to raise their game, publishers are not going to be relaxing yet, with the launches of Emap's Grazia and Conde Nast's Easy Living both backed by huge marketing budgets. The launches could bring in more of the elusive thirtysomething audience. This new audience has the potential to benefit the whole market.
TITLE Publisher Total ABC Period-on- Year-on-
% change % change
Glamour Conde Nast 620,391 2.4 6.5
Cosmopolitan NatMags 478,394 4.8 3.9
Yours Emap 438,872 6.0 8.7
Good Housekeeping NatMags 435,076 4.1 4.7
Marie Claire IPC 384,502 1.0 6.6
Woman & Home IPC 332,646 9.5 12.6
Company NatMags 332,603 2.3 0.6
Candis Newhall 321,050 1.7 4.7
Prima NatMags 317,308 -3.9 -3.9
New Woman Emap 280,448 -3.6 -3.5
Filipacchi 210,027 6.5 6.8
Vogue Conde Nast 206,834 0.7 0.8
Elle (UK) Hachette
Filipacchi 202,074 0.3 0.4
Real Essential 197,031 -3.6 -4.2
InStyle UK IPC 191,001 0.5 2.0