Weeklies make gains

Well-established monthlies are brushing up their acts as new weeklies inject dynamism into the market.

Most of the high-profile launches which dominated the January to June ABCs had, by the end of the second half of 2005, increased their share. Meanwhile, growth among their established competitors suggests that these titles attracted new readers to newsstands.

As a result, the magazine industry is up in terms of volume sales for the seventh consecutive year. The number of copies purchased in the UK was up 3.1 per cent year on year with total average net circulation per issue up by as much as 13.7 per cent to 78.9 million.

The real buzz in 2005 lay in weeklies. Launches such as ACP-Natmag's Reveal, Emap's Grazia and IPC Media's Nuts continued to make strong inroads. And more are arriving. In the past few weeks, News International launched the real-life weekly Love It! - its first magazine - and ACP-Natmag unveiled its long-awaited Real People.

Paul Keenan, the chief executive of Emap Consumer Media, says: "Publishers not launching weeklies must feel left out in the rain." He adds that weeklies have grown at the expense of some monthly titles which "have gone in the opposite direction and tried to compete with weeklies".

Steve Goodman, the managing director, print trading at MediaCom, says, for advertisers, both frequencies are important. He adds: "Growth in the weekly sector means clients can now achieve immediacy with their messages, and sustain those messages through the longevity of the monthly magazine environment." The more upmarket monthlies, however, continued to raise their share.

The customer-publishing market continued to show its worth, laying claim to the six highest-circulation magazines. Magazines for the retail sector performed particularly strongly with Tesco's launch debuting in second place and Sainsbury's recording a double-digit increase with its revamped title.

IPC Media, the UK's number-one publisher by volume, had a busy first half of 2005 with several high-profile launches. However, the last six months of the year were not easy. Between July and December 2005, TV Easy was down a whopping 16.3 per cent, and Pick Me Up was down 2.4 per cent.

Some of the company's established titles didn't do as well as in previous years either. Now lost its top spot in the hotly competitive celebrity market, slipping to third, and Marie Claire was down by more than 13,000 copies year on year.

Successes included Loaded, InStyle and Nuts, all of which saw solid year-on-year increases.

Sylvia Auton, IPC's chief executive, says: "Nuts hits its second birthday in superlative shape. It launched as market leader, remains market leader, and continues to forge ahead."

Emap had a good second half of 2005 across five of its seven divisions.

Its weeklies performed well with Closer overtaking its sister title Heat.

Grazia increased its circulation by more than 15,000. Zoo was also up but, with its IPC rival Nuts' continued dominance, Emap is looking to reposition its men's weekly this year.

FHM suffered a double-digit drop, as did New Woman. The teen music title Smash Hits! was shut after 28 years following plunging circulations.

Keenan says: "2005 was a record year for launches but Grazia was the only one to grow its newsstand sales. By retail sales value, Grazia is now the biggest glossy magazine."

The National Magazine Company had a sterling year, leapfrogging up the rankings to overtake BBC Magazines as the UK's fourth-largest publisher by volume. Its launches and relaunches began to bear fruit. She was up for the first time in years, following its October relaunch. Good Housekeeping, also furthered growth in the face of new competition.

Esquire suffered a double-digit decline/fall and Cosmopolitan was marginally down. The publisher's weekly division, ACP-Natmag, forged ahead with a 44 per cent year-on-year rise for Reveal and Real People launched in January. Jessica Burley, NatMags' new managing director, says: "Product development and editorial creativity are still key drivers to our titles' success."

As expected, following the review of operations last year, BBC Magazines took a knock in 2005, experiencing an overall decrease of 7.4 per cent.

The publisher, which has long been number three in the market, dropped to fifth position behind H Bauer and NatMags.

Double-digit drops were widespread across sectors including gardening, children's and teen. However, key titles such as BBC Top Gear and BBC Good Food proved to be a lifeline and both achieved growth in the face of strong competition. Peter Phippen, BBC Magazines' managing director, says: "Top Gear has increased its lead. Good Homes continues to grow faster than any other title in its sector and Radio Times is still the UK's biggest magazine brand."

Conde Nast experienced a couple of blips this period but saw an impressive, overall rise of 10 per cent year on year. Its once untouchable Glamour was down for the second consecutive period. The launch title Easy Living performed solidly, however. All of its premium titles, including Vogue, Tatler and GQ, continued to increase their share.

Nicholas Coleridge, the publisher's managing director, describes Glamour's dip as "manageable". He says: "There's been lots of activity in its marketplace but Glamour is still the biggest-selling monthly in Europe by a big margin. And it has increased its lead over the number two, FHM."

More than half of Hachette Filipacchi UK's titles reported drops but the launch of Psychologies - with a debut ABC of 96,012 - helped the publisher achieve overall year-on-year growth of 2.7 per cent. Red and Elle both grew in circulation despite the attack from NatMags' She and Conde Nast's Easy Living in their market. The relaunch of B in the first half of 2005 failed to prevent a double-digit drop in these ABCs. All About Soap was also down.

Kevin Hand, Hachette's chairman, says: "Despite talk of strong growth in the weekly market and the threat it poses the monthlies, we have bucked the trend and proved that brilliant monthly titles can make strong gains."

Launch capability remains a key criteria for publishers. The ability to launch and then take new titles the distance is fundamental to success.

With some new magazines already struggling and existing titles raising their game, this year promises continued stiff competition on newsstands.

- 'The market is dynamic, if you're prepared to be bold and innovate. The UK newsstand must be the most lively in the world by a mile.' - Paul Keenan, chief executive, Emap Consumer Media

- 'We are big investors in editorial content and this strategy continues to deliver very positive results.' - Duncan Edwards, chief executive, The National Magazine Company

- 'In a market which has rarely been this active or interesting, I am particularly pleased with the results of our premium titles.' - Kevin Hand, chairman, Hachette Filipacchi UK

- 'This year will be a busy and exciting year for BBC Magazines with the expected launch of a number of new titles.' - Peter Phippen, managing director, BBC Magazines

- 'We have either gained market leadership, held market leadership or gained share in every sector we operate in. That's flipping impressive.' - Nicholas Coleridge, managing director, Conde Nast

- 'Our strategy of focusing on launching innovative as opposed to "me too" magazines is paying dividends.' - Sylvia Auton, chief executive, IPC Media.

PUBLISHERS PUBLISHER Total ABC Period-on-period Year-on-year % change % change IPC Media 9,147,964 10.4 3.2 Emap 6,310,707 16.7 -0.5 H Bauer 4,093,852 7.7 -3.0 NatMags 3,798,251 8.7 1.2 BBC Magazines 3,593,232 -4.6 -7.4 Future 1,842,533 88.5 -4.9 Conde Nast 1,648,352 3.9 10.5 Hachette Filipacchi 1,298,433 2.3 2.7 Northern & Shell 1,289,532 18.5 13.4 Dennis Publishing 1,073,939 43.3 -11 Haymarket Publishing 1,065,658 75.7 0.9 Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations, July-December 2005.