Chat and Heat were the only two titles to show any real signs of growth yearonyear in the women’s weeklies sector as the arrival of Richard Desmond’s cut-price celebrity title New! and Emap’s Closer squeezed sales at both ends of the market.
Closer reported a debut ABC of 334,542, just behind New!’s 339,035.
The competition hit year-on-year sales of Hello! (down 32.9 per cent), OK! (down 14.8 per cent) and Now (down 6.3 per cent period-on-period).
Heat editor Mark Frith said interest in the TV series Big Brother had contributed to the magazine’s 18.1 per cent rise year-on-year.
“When you’ve got two million people voting, that’s huge and people forget that. We are the only celebrity magazine to have period-on-period and year-on-year increases and we have done that without resorting to giving away a free gift every two weeks,” he said, taking a swipe at Now’s series of 16-page booklets.
Now, the UK’s top-selling celebrity title and the only magazine to raise its cover price, was up 3.6 per cent year-on-
year to 590,544. “Closer and New! were direct launches against Now but when you look at how many sales they account for, the amount I have actually lost and how little money IPC has had to spend, I am pleased,” said Now editor Jane Ennis.
Hello!’s publishing director, Sally Cartwright, attributed the magazine’s slide – down nearly 33 per cent yearonyear – to the removal of bulks and its move upmarket.
“Copy sales have grown but the launches have undoubtedly had an impact on every title, certainly on OK! and Hello! The market is near saturation and it would be a brave person who launched a new title,” she said.
Take a Break sold 1.2 million and Chat reported an 11.8 per cent rise, closing the gap on That’s Life and overtaking Heat, Woman and OK!.
One of Take a Break’ s biggest selling issues featured the story of a man who married his fiancÃ© as she lay in a coffin.
“I thought we might have had some complaints about putting a picture of a corpse on the cover, especially as her finger had gone purple, but we got more complaints about the coverline, ‘I caught my husband getting frisky with a frozen chicken’,” said editor Paul Merrill.
Best overtook Bella for the first time in 17 years and Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman’s Weekly posted losses.
By Ruth Addicott