Haymarket preparing for Happy ending?

A late bid for Northern & Shell’s shopping magazine, Happy, was expected to be made by Haymarket Magazines this week, according to a source on the title.

Happy was closed by N&S last Thursday, with the loss of some 20 jobs.

The “one-stop shopping magazine”

was Northern & Shell’s first launch of 2005, four months before the costly arrival of OK! into the US market.

Richard Desmond’s shopping digest hit trouble four months after launch when the monthly decided to merge its August and September editions, in what the publisher called a “logical”

response to problems in the retail sector.

Its ABC figure actually rose over the last 12 months from 83,810 to 86,236 per month.

Last week’s announcement blamed a downturn in advertising on the closure, according to an insider on the magazine. The title, priced at £2.50, faced stiff competition for high-end advertisers from Emap’s weekly Grazia.

Earlier this year, IPC launched its fashion-focused weekly, Look, with a strong emphasis on clothes and accessories shopping and a section dedicating pages to individual retailers’ new stock each week.

A source at Happy said that up to 19 editorial staff would lose their jobs as a result of the closure. They will be paid parent company Northern & Shell’s redundancy terms and also their notice period.

In a statement, Northern & Shell said: “The decision was reached as the group re-examined its projections in the light of changes in the market and in particular the launch of lossmaking weeklies which have impacted on the whole of the monthly women’s fashion sector.”

It continued: “Following this decision Northern & Shell will be continuing to focus its magazine publishing initiatives on the celebrity sector and the massive worldwide growth of OK!

magazine.”

OK! took the top spot in the last round of ABCs in terms of total sales, helped by celebrity wedding exclusives and boosted by overseas sales – 546,812 of its 624,091 were domestic sales.

N&S’s celebrity magazines have been performing well in a buoyant sector.

Star boasts the title of the “fastest growing”

celebrity weekly, increasing 26.3 per cent year on year in the latest magazine ABCs, with a circulation of 269,723.

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