Celebrity fever continues to boost sales

The appetite for measuring celebrity waist sizes shows no signs of abating as four of the top five celeb gossip weeklies celebrated continued growth in the ABCs year on year.

Closer took the top spot for the first time in terms of total sales, beating Emap stablemate Heat to second place.

The title, edited by Jane Johnson, was up 9.3 per cent year on year to 590,211 while Heat, edited by Mark Frith, was up 3.5 per cent to 579,883.

Louise Matthews, MD of Emap Entertainment, said Closer's success showed it was "top of its game" and was "a massive tribute to Jane [Johnson] and her team".

She said that the wave of "me too" magazines that followed in the wake of Heat and Closer had not hit sales and that the brands were so strong they did not need exclusives to draw in readers. "People buy Heat whatever's on its cover — I don't think there's that many genuine brands that can say that."

Emap's newest title, First has not issued an ABC as yet, having only been on the shelves since May. Matthews said the title would "take time" and that its evolution — with its original newsy main cover stories taking second place to more traditional celebrity coverlines — "was not a conscious shift". Closer's Jane Johnson has been drafted in to work on the weekly with editor Julian Lindley.

Down from pole position was Northern & Shell's OK! up 2.8 per cent year on year to 547,714, but down 15.7 per cent over the last six months. Its reign at the top was largely attributed to a sales spike after its Jordan wedding exclusive.

It is likely that the England footballer Ashley Cole's wedding to singer Cheryl Tweedy will attract a similar rise. Sister title New! climbed 23 per cent year on year to weekly sales of 458,751.

IPC's Now, once the market leader, suffered a significant decline in sales year on year of 8.8 per cent, to 539,902, while Hello! was up 2.8 per cent to 403,666, breaking the 400,000 sales barrier for the first time in four years.

Relative newcomer, Natmags' Reveal experienced a 25.3 per cent increase year on year to 342,245, and Northern & Shell's third title, Star, was up 47.4 per cent to 268,797.

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