Bliss and TV Hits only teenage titles to show increases

Bliss bucked the trend in the teenage sector with its new A5 handbag-size format, while most other titles showed dramatic losses.

Market leader Sugar, J-17, Smash! Hits, Mizz and Shout showed significant year-on-year falls and Cosmopolitan’s teen spin-off, CosmoGIRL!, lost 18.9 per cent of sales in the past six months.

Just two titles showed an increase. Bliss rose by 1.7 per cent to 260,102 following a £2m relaunch in April under new editor Helen Johnstone, and TV Hits increased by 1.4 per cent.

The National Magazine Company says CosmoGIRL! will receive significant investment, shrink to a handbag size and increase in pagination in an attempt to halt the slide.

Dawn BŽbe, managing director of Bliss owner Emap Elan, raised doubts. “Editorially, it’s not as good as the American edition,” she said. “It is not offering anything better than anything else in the market.”

Alfie Lewis, publisher of It’s Hot! and Top of the Pops, said the response to CosmoGIRL! reflected the tough conditions. “It’s a good magazine but it’s quite depressing that a magazine can have that level of expertise and that much promotion and can’t sell more than 130,000 copies in the UK. It shows what a tough market it is. The mistake they made is the idea that teenage girls aren’t interested in free gifts. They are relying on the integrity and intelligence of the reader to want a good read.”

Emap’s recent launch, Sneak, reported sales of 86,535. “Sneak is in trouble. At launch they said they were going to sell 150,000 so they need a real change of direction or look,” Lewis said.

Emap managing director of pop, Stephen Palmer, rejected the claims, and said Emap was delighted with the result. “It is the first weekly in the teen market since about 1994 and the Holy Grail of sales is 100,000 a week.”

Smash! Hits fell 10.8 per cent year-on-year, ahead of a revamp in April under new editor Lisa Smosarski.

J-17 posted a 33.7 per cent fall in August, and a 20.5 per cent drop in the latest figures, but BŽbe said it had turned the corner with a 9.3 per cent rise period-on-period following a revamp. “We are very pleased, but we’ve got further to go. It’s an extremely crowded and cluttered market.”

By Mary Stevens

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