FHM, Loaded and Maxim bear brunt as men's titles fall

LONDON - The men's magazine sector has fallen 9.5% in six months with double-digit declines for big titles such as FHM, Loaded, Zoo and Maxim in the ABC circulation figures for January-June 2006.

Overall sales in the sector are only just above 2m, compared with 2,237,078 six months earlier.

A year ago, sales totalled 2,328,386, at a time when the arrival of the new weeklies Nuts and Zoo had reinvigorated the category.

In the current period, Nuts has seized a definitive lead over Zoo, which has faded by 12.5% over the previous six months from 260,470 a week to 228,024.

Nuts sold 304,785 copies a week, which is only 0.7% down on the previous six months.

However, the story is different for Nuts' monthly stablemate Loaded, down 20.1% from 232,001 a month to 185,268 despite its low cover price of £2.50 since April 2005.

FHM, the monthly market leader, escaped predictions of a 100,000 drop in copy sales, but still lost almost 80,000 to sink 16% from 500,865 to 420,688.

Loaded's drop was outweighed only by Dennis Publishing's Maxim, down 21.4% from 185,908 to 146,043 a month. Its year-on-year figure was even worse, down 35.8% from 227,377.

Maxim stablemate Bizarre was down 8.1% to 65,959.

Dennis recently brought in Nuts deputy editor Derek Harbinson as the new Maxim editor, hoping to recapture the sales it enjoyed early in former editor Greg Gutfeld's brief tenure.

It is also preparing a multi-platform lads' mag called Monkey, appearing to acknowledge that men's attention is being called away from magazines to new media such as mobile and internet.

FHM's fall from grace is partly explained by its publisher Emap as the embodiment of this trend. It has also blamed the title's similarity to the weeklies and has said it will be repositioned from the October issue, on sale August 31.

However, it is not all bad news in the sector, as the specialist titles retained sales. Men's Health from Natmag-Rodale notched up a 1% rise to 235,833 and its Dennis rival Men's Fitness rose 0.1% to 67,674.

Haymarket's Stuff continues to add readers, with its best figure to date of 92,672, up 2.1% over six months and 19.8% over a year.

Its rival T3 was not due to post an ABC figure for this period, but its figure for July-December 2005 was 54,488.

Conde Nast's GQ had the best of it at the classier end of the general market, growing 0.4% to 126,797 in contrast to falls for its rivals.

Emap's Arena had a particularly bad six months, down 18.6% from 49,296 to 40,140. The National Magazine Company's Esquire was also down, dropping 3.9% to 52,437.

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