'Family Circle' closes as women lose taste for crochet and recipes

For more than four decades its glossy pages have been a mine of beauty tips, knitting patterns, recipes and breezy reads aimed at the middle-class homemaker.

But yesterday the publishers of Family Circle, which once had an apparently unassailable position among supermarket titles, announced that the magazine was to close, citing plummeting circulation.

Despite recent attempts to update the monthly title, sales had suffered because it no longer catered for the tastes of the modern woman and it was no longer relevant to modern family life, its publishers admitted.

Having failed to innovate successfully, the publishers were faced with the choice of pumping in more cash or accepting that the readership, of which 93 per cent was female with an average age of 52, was in danger of dying out. The threat from the internet and the arrival of a clutch of new magazines with added celebrity content helped to make up their minds in pulling the plug.

When International Thomson Publishing sold the title to IPC in 1988, it boasted a circulation of 625,000, making it the top women's monthly, but the figure has recently dropped to 112,597.

"Family Circle in its heyday was one of Britain's biggest-selling monthlies, but sales have been in decline for some time," said Jackie Newcombe, the IPC SouthBank managing director. "Despite numerous attempts to reinvigorate the title, the time has come for us to accept the market has moved on. Rather than continue to invest in this title, it is with much regret that we have to conclude that Family Circle's future is untenable. The magazine has around a dozen staff who are expected to find work on other in-house titles. The final issue of the magazine will be the December 2006 edition."

Behind the magazine's homely content was a shrewd business plan agreed by its previous owners that drove sales for many years. Family Circle and its sister title, Living, benefited from an exclusive arrangement with supermarkets, and for many years they were the only magazines available at the check-outs.

IPC also published book spin-offs from the magazines covering topics such as slimming, cooking, crochet and sewing. But it lost its stronghold when publishers began to explore distributing their titles though supermarkets. A further blow came when the German publisher Gruner + Jahr launched Prima in the UK in 1986. Within a few years the magazine claimed to have overtaken Family Circle as the UK's best-selling women's monthly.

IPC still holds its own in the general interest consumer sector with magazine titles such as essentials, Ideal Home, Woman and Women's Own.

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