Dennis Publishing's Maxim suffered the biggest circulation decline, falling below the 200,000 barrier. Sales of the magazine fell 18.7 per cent year on year to 190,438 copies.
Bruce Sandell, the managing director of Dennis' consumer division, says: "Maxim's ABC was a disappointing result in a very tough and unstable market. We are constantly trying to define our role against the men's weeklies. The good thing about the men's market is that nothing ever stays the same."
Sandell says Maxim will continue to invest in the product and above-the-line marketing during the current ABC six-monthly period. He adds: "There will be a big focus on mobile and digital development."
FHM, the Emap-owned market leader, slipped by 13.6 per cent year on year to 500,865 copies. Despite FHM's fall in sales, its publisher, Rimi Attal, was upbeat about the magazine's performance: "The weekly titles have spent £16 million on marketing since launching just over two years ago. Yet FHM still dominates and sells more than half-a-million copies. FHM's success is down to its ability to innovate beyond print. By branching out into areas such as a mobile and the web, we've got a greater share of voice across lots of platforms."
Attal adds that FHM is gearing up for an editorial refresh to coincide with its May issue. The redesign centres on two main issues in response to the news and girls-led weeklies; how to make the magazine less disposable and topical, and the amount of space devoted to girls.
The original lads' magazine, IPC Media's Loaded, which last year underwent a relaunch, recorded a circulation increase of 5.4 per cent year on year to 232,001 copies.
Tim Brooks, the managing director of IPC Ignite!, says: "The monthlies that have responded to the emergence of the men's weeklies without relying heavily on covermounts are doing well. Only three out of the last six issues of Loaded featured a giveaway. We've outperformed the market and we're delighted."
The men's weekly titles continue to flourish, with IPC Media's Nuts continuing to lead the field. Nuts recorded a circulation boost of 11.4 per cent year on year to 306,802.
Brooks says: "New titles offer advertisers more choice and make existing ones work harder."
Emap's weekly offering, Zoo, experienced a circulation rise of 8.4 per cent year on year but there is almost no change in the gap between the two titles. Zoo trails Nuts by 46,000 copies.
Emap is repositioning Zoo, with the newly installed editor, Anthony Noguera, planning to take the magazine more upmarket. The relaunch in April will be backed by a £4.5 million ad campaign, created by Mother.
Of the more upmarket monthlies, Emap's Arena enjoyed its eighth consecutive circulation increase, with sales up 11.2 per cent year on year to 49,296 copies.
Its publisher, Dan Flower, says: "The effort on the editorial side of Arena has really pushed the boundaries. We've been really innovative with our features, combined with consistently good cover stars."
Of the other lifestyle monthlies, The National Magazine Company's Esquire fell 23.6 per cent year on year to 54,548 copies, while Conde Nast's GQ rose 1 per cent year on year to 126,275 copies.
One of the few monthlies to enjoy a significant circulation boost was Haymarket's Stuff. The gadgets and gizmos magazine, which is published by the owner of Campaign, reported a year-on-year rise of 21.7 per cent.
Verdict Publishers predict tough times ahead for monthly magazines, with innovation the order of the day if titles are to arrest circulation declines.
A strong online presence will be vital as will the scale of magazines' audiences across a variety of platforms. The men's weekly market will plateau but will continue to thrive, while a third entrant into the sector is expected.
MEN'S LIFESTYLE TITLE PUBLISHER Total ABC Period-on Year-on -period -year % change % change FHM Emap 500,865 -10.6 -13.6 Nuts IPC 306,802 0.7 11.4 Zoo Emap 260,470 0.1 8.4 Men's Health NatMag-Rodale 233,445 2.3 1.9 Loaded IPC 232,001 -2.1 5.4 Maxim Dennis 190,438 -16.2 -18.7 GQ Conde Nast 126,275 1.0 1.0 Stuff Haymarket 90,750 17.3 21.7 Bizarre Dennis 71,776 -6.0 -16.4 Men's Fitness Dennis 67,671 1.8 5.7 Focus Origin Publishing 57,306 4.1 7.6 Esquire NatMags 54,548 -14.2 -23.6 T3 Future 54,488 n/a 0.5 Arena Emap 49,296 5.6 11.2 Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations, July-December 2005.