WH Smith prepares to battle publishers with own new titles

WH Smith, the UK's largest magazine retailer, is to take on

publishers with the launch of three bi-monthly titles.



The magazines, produced by John Brown Publishing, WH Smith's custom

publisher, will launch into the fitness and health, family and money and

career markets.



They will compete with titles such as Zest and Men's Health.



The November launch issues will retain the Total Guides branding used by

WH Smith for its ongoing series of one-shot titles. However, this will

have been replaced by independent cover designs in time for the

follow-up January issues. January will also see the start of a marketing

drive that is likely to include above-the-line advertising.



Editors for the three titles are likely to be appointed within the next

month, with John Brown promising high-profile names with consumer title

experience.



Simon Hamer, the launch ad manager of Men's Health, who joined John

Brown in August, has been appointed as the group advertising manager for

the bi-monthlies. John Brown's managing director, Dean Fitzpatrick, said

that Hamer's appointment would signal a more aggressive approach to

selling the titles. "Once we decided to move on to this stage we needed

somebody who would give us credibility in the marketplace," he said.

"Advertising and commercial opportunities will be developed."



WH Smith has claimed that in-store sales of several of its one-off

guides outperformed those of leading consumer rivals, including the

health market leader, Top Sante.



"This is just the start of our publishing aspirations," WH Smith's news

and express business unit director, John Simpson, said. "We've plans to

become a significant force in the market over the next few years."



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