Style magazine 'Sky' shuts after missing out on gossip

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The Independent Online

Sky magazine, the monthly style guide aimed at "cool", young, metropolitan readers of both sexes, is to close after 14 years.

It is the latest in a long line of glossy titles which have failed to survive a crippling decline in sales blamed on the demise of the 1990s unisex culture.

Despite a reputation for pursuing the cutting edge of metropolitan youth, publisher Emap's attempt to reach a cross-gender audience with a mainstream lifestyle magazine was incapable of enduring a 35.2 per cent drop in sales. Its decline has been consistent over the last five years, with sales falling from 164,731 in December 1996 to just 65,080 last year.

Despite generating a successful image in its heyday as a magnet for new writing and design talent, and establishing a reputation for innovative fashion, Sky failed to transfer its appeal to today's audience who place growing importance on celebrity news and gossip.

"It is always disappointing when a magazine closes but, in this case, we've exhausted all our options," said Barry McIlheney, the chief executive of Emap Elan Network, yesterday. The company is looking for jobs on their other titles for the magazine's staff.

The closure of Sky was yesterday accompanied by the news that a younger entrant to the glossy market is also to fold. Later, IPC's offering for "grown-up lads" will close after a four-year battle to survive in the competitive men's sector. Later's last audited figures showed sales down to 70,267 compared to its sibling, Loaded, which sells 351,353.

Sky and Later join Nova, the revived 1960's style bible, and Mondo, the men's lifestyle magazine, which have been closed in recent months after failing to inspire target markets. The men's health sector also failed to sustain GQ Active.

In the current climate no magazine is safe from closure with barely a single genre unaffected by decline. The casualties cut across all sectors with some of the worst-affected titles in the girls' market where sales of the BBC's Live & Kicking have slumped by nearly 30 per cent. Two new launches into the sector, CosmoGirl! and Elle Girl, faced delays while Smash Hits reported a drop of 8.2 per cent.

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