ABC: Women's Weeklies

Two entrants have fuelled further growth in the weekly market and have tipped the sector's total circulation over the nine-million mark.

Despite initial market scepticism, ACP-NatMags' Reveal recorded a solid ABC of 273,159 copies. This figure was up almost 14 per cent on its January debut. The magazine's publisher is so confident of its success that it will release another figure in ten weeks' time, which is likely to show further double-digit growth.

Jessica Burley, the chief operating officer of ACP-NatMag, says: "When we launched Reveal less than a year ago, we said it would grow the market and this ABC supports that. We expect Reveal to continue to grow - many issues in the past two months have sold more than 300,000 copies."

However, Reveal still has a long way to go to catch its Emap rival, Closer.

The title is seemingly unstoppable and its 12.5 per cent rise year on year enabled it to jump into third place in the celebrity market, overtaking Northern & Shell's OK!.

Heat's growth has slowed over the past few years, but it was one of only three titles to grow over the period and the year. Louise Matthews, the managing director at Emap Entertainment, says: "With Heat's premium cover price (at £1.55, it is 55p more expensive than its competitors), it is astonishing what it has achieved among all the 'me toos'. It's still the coolest badge on the market."

Now, IPC Media's market-leading celebrity title, experienced its first period drop in years but increased sales year on year. No doubt its publisher was concentrating its energies on the launch of the real-life title, Pick Me Up. Backed by a large marketing budget, it has stormed the market with a debut ABC of 503,950 copies.

Evelyn Webster, the IPC Connect managing director, says: "Pick Me Up demonstrates the happy marriage of knowing your readers and delivering a title that sparks with originality."

The rest of the "easy entertainment" titles, including Take a Break, Chat and Best, posted marginal declines. Burley attributes this to aggressive pricing, pointing, in particular, to Burda selling its new title, Full House, for 10p. "This educates the consumer not to value the product at the right price," she says. Full House did not release an ABC figure and it is thought to be selling fewer than 140,000 copies a week.

David Goodchild, the managing director of H Bauer, defended the performance of his titles. He says: "A 5 per cent drop when you're selling more than 500,000 magazines is small. To have this kind of performance in a market that has had so much activity after being untouched for so long shows the strength of the titles."

Verdict: The activity over the next six months is likely to focus on the real-life sector, with ACP-NatMag planning to launch Real People. With rumours about a 60p cover price to rival Pick Me Up, there is a danger the more expensive titles may suffer.

WOMEN'S WEEKLIES TITLE PUBLISHER Total ABC Period-on- Year-on- period year % change % change Take a Break H Bauer 1,200,397 -1.8 -0.7 Chat IPC 609,163 -4.3 0.4 Now IPC 591,795 -4.4 2.0 That's Life H Bauer 569,631 -5.3 -0.8 Heat Emap 560,438 1.5 3.7 Closer Emap 540,044 7.1 12.5 OK! Northern & Shell 532,843 0.6 -3.8 Pick Me Up IPC 503,950 n/a n/a Woman IPC 485,463 -8.0 -9.5 Woman's Weekly IPC 425,568 -4.9 -5.8 Source Audit Bureau of Circulations, January-June 2005.