The Abcs

Magazine circulation January - June 2005

AT a time when director general Mark Thompson is demanding that the BBC tightens its collective waistband, it falls to Trinny and Susannah, the corporation's fashion tipsters, to provide a little financial as well as sartorial comfort.

The duo's magazine What to Wear posted the most improved figures of last Thursday's six-monthly ABCs, with active purchases up a staggering 50.4 per cent year-on-year and a total sale of 120,296, launching it into the top 100 best-selling magazines. Sadly for Trinny and Susannah, the Beeb has yet to decide whether to produce more editions of the bi-annual title, even though the TV show is back in the autumn.

Nevertheless, the BBC Worldwide magazine sector - the subject of searching questions in the recent Government Green Paper on the future of the corporation - is celebrating other success stories, notably Bob The Builder magazine (active sales up 27.1 per cent, circulation 114,784) and Top Gear (up to No 78 in the rankings with 147,546).

The BBC's joy will be tempered somewhat by the inept performance of Top of the Pops magazine, which, pop pickers, tumbled 33 places to No 84 in the top 100, posting a miserable ABC of 134,910 and raising questions about the relevance of the re-launched TV show of the same name.

Women's magazines were the focus of most interest in this set of ABCs, with Emap's stylish weekly Grazia and Condé Nast's luxurious Easy Living both releasing their first sets of figures. The latter came into the top 100 at 67, surpassing its rather modest 150,000 target with 168,164, but not preventing NatMags rival Good Housekeeping from forging ahead with a 13.8 per cent year-on-year active purchase gain and a whopping sale of 455,128.

Elsewhere in the women's sector, big winners included Hatchette's Red (up 12 per cent year-on-year in active purchases), IPC Media's Woman and Home (up 9.7 per cent). Celebrity magazines Closer (Emap) and Reveal (ACP-NatMag) continued the extraordinary growth of this sector with annual increases of 12.6 per cent and 13.2 per cent respectively.

Among the losers in the women's market were IPC Media's Essentials (down 14.4 per cent) and Woman (down 9.3 per cent). There was gloom too for NatMag's She (down 17.8 per cent) and young woman's title Company (down 7.5 per cent). The same publisher's teen title Cosmo Girl took a pasting, down 18.7 per cent, forcing NatMags to reverse its innovative strategy of selling every three weeks instead of monthly. Group publishing director Jan Adcock confessed: "Unfortunately expectations were not met, and despite selling the same number of copies of the magazine in absolute terms, the increased frequency has had a dilutive effect on the average figure."

As for Grazia, it showed that monthlies are not the only game in town, just surpassing its launch target of 150,000 with 154,550, and paving the way for a new weekly market.

In men's magazines that market is now established and continuing to grow as IPC's Nuts cracked the 300,000 sale barrier, with Emap's Zoo in pursuit with 257,482, with active purchases up 30.6 per cent year-on-year. Loaded claimed a successful relaunch, with a 7.4 per cent increase in active purchases on the same time last year.

With Jeremy Clarkson's BBC Top Gear Magazine increasing sales it was a good six months for men and motors. Or was it? The boy racer's bible Max Power saw active purchases go into reverse at 23 per cent, while What Car? was down 15.5 per cent.

Worrying times, too, in the telly mags sector because - although What's on TV, Take a Break, TV Choice and Radio Times remain Britain's biggest paid-fors - TV Times dropped by 9.6 per cent in active purchases and TV Quick by 11.6 per cent. Perhaps the readers are waiting for the new season of What to Wear?

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