MEDIA HEADLINER: Energetic publishing pro set to send NatMags into a spin. Justine Southall takes over NatMags' young women's portfolio

Justine Southall may be nudging 40, but her new role as the

publishing director of The National Magazine Company's young women's

portfolio seems entirely appropriate, considering she's nursing a broken

ankle from doing ten cartwheels in a row. "I like doing cartwheels," she

explains matter-of-factly.



This incident neatly illustrates Southall's exhaustive enthusiasm and

bubbly nature. She is a well- known figure in the publishing industry

and seems remarkably undamaged from her two-year stint at BBC Worldwide,

where she has braved tough market conditions to try and smooth through

the launch of Eve, a magazine for slightly older, "intelligent"

women.



Jackie Newcombe, the managing director of Cube3, Associated Newspapers'

contract publishing division, who was Southall's boss at IPC Media,

says: "What you see is what you get with Justine. Her exuberance is not

an act, that's what she's like. Although some people may be slightly put

off by this initially, they soon come around. She's a real 'glass half

full' person, which clients love."



Southall is adamant that the reason why she chose to join NatMags was

not to escape Eve, but because Duncan Edwards, the deputy managing

director of NatMags, had offered a group of titles too good to turn

down. Her remit will include Company, Zest and She. "Each title has its

own clear brand identity," she says, "but from the commercial potential

there are synergies and they sit very well within the overall portfolio

of NatMags."



Despite rumours circulating about Eve and a struggling circulation,

Southall says its first ABC audit will exceed the unofficial one of

129,711, adding: "Eve, unfortunately, has been caught up in this

hysteria because it was the only launch in 2000 that has survived -

Aura, Nova, Bare and PS have all closed. Eve has established credibility

within a market and is still pulling in copy sales and advertising -

we've done what we said we'd do."



It is a hard time for anyone to take on a new clutch of titles and try

and take them to the next step, but Southall is confident she can build

on and improve the brands. "It's about growing and maintaining market

share in a phenomenally tough market, and from an advertising point of

view, making them more famous and creating a buzz around them. People

need to be given a kick every now and then to remind them," she

says.



All the titles that Southall inherits have had mixed fortunes over the

last year. While She leads the thirtysomething market, its sales were

down just under 5 per cent year on year, but up 5.3 per cent period on

period. Southall observes: "She is the market leader, but it's an

undervalued brand." Company was down 8.6 per cent year on year but up

12.1 per cent period on period, and the health and beauty title Zest saw

a 1.6 per cent year on year rise, but suffered a 7 per cent fall period

on period. Southall believes the latter can recover in a market which is

booming: "There are increasing numbers of women thinking about their

health - it still has a lot of potential and in the more upmarket sector

it is the market leader."



Edwards is clearly chuffed that Southall is joining his gang. "I think

the industry perceives this as quite a coup - she's a really good

operator. We've always thought of her as a NatMags person."



Newcombe points to Southall's turnaround of Marie Claire's advertising

as an illustration of her ability. "She made Marie Claire an advertising

success. She can cut tough deals, but she does it with charm."



Southall's career path has not deviated from magazines, apart from her

first career steps as a manager of Jigsaw in Bath. She was at IPC for

nine years, starting out as a sales executive on Options and working her

way up to IPC's fashion and beauty ad director. It seems that Southall

and glossy magazines are inseparable. "Over the years I've gone and

talked to people about every other kind of media, but there's something

about magazines, their physical nature, that I think is wonderful.

There's nothing like a brand new magazine and that wonderful new smell.

I would never say never, but I do love working in magazines. Everyone

has an opinion on magazines."



Topics