Kick the covermount cocaine habit'

Whetton: steering Marie Claire away from covermounts – ‘the crack cocaine of the publishing world’

Marie Claire’s attempt to get other glossies to follow its lead and abandon the use of covermounts to boost sales has received a lukewarm response.

Sales of the IPC title dropped 9.8 per cent to 360,789 year-on-year.

Publishing director Jackie Newcombe claimed the only real growth in the sector came from magazines that had covermounted up to 10 issues.

She said marketing costs had more than doubled in the past four years and were having a huge impact on profitability.

In a bid to break free of the covermount “drug”, IPC has slashed the price of Marie Claire outside London and is believed to be looking at size and format instead.

“Marie Claire’s sales have slipped but this is totally understandable as we move away from the crack cocaine of the publishing world,” said Sandy Whetton, managing director of IPC SouthBank.

Glamour publisher Simon Kippin was more sceptical: “This is better spin than New Labour. The fact is Marie Claire has taken another hit and it has been covermounting like fury. Many years ago when I was publisher of Cosmopolitan, I had meetings with IPC and Emap to say, ‘Come on chaps, this is madness, let’s stop this’. And do you know what? They wouldn’t stop. The sampling we have got from restricted covermounting has been crucial.”

Condé Nast’s Glamour reported an 8.4 per cent rise to 582,690 and the National Magazine Company’s Cosmopolitan an ABC of 460,655.

Justine Southall, group publishing director of NatMag’s She, Company and Zest, agreed, claiming it was the combination of great editorial and clever marketing that generated growth.

“Price alone won’t do it. Readers will vote with their feet and if they don’t like it, they’ll put their £1.80 halfway towards a packet of fags.”

Company’s birthday issue in October was the biggest-selling issue since its relaunch in 2002 – with no covermount, she said.

Bauer’s Real recorded the highest increase overall, up 27.6 per cent to 205,702. Woman and Home was up 8.6 per cent to 295,362, In Style rose 6.8 per cent to 187,172 and BBC Magazines’ Eve grew 17.6 per cent.

Jessica Gibson, associate publisher of Eve, said free gifts had increased sampling of Eve but stressed it was the editorial that made readers loyal.

“We are still young and clearly it is in our interests to try to drive sales,” she added.

Hachette Filipacchi’s B hopes to reverse its 14.1 per cent decline following the appointment of editor Francis Sheen. General manager Julie Harris predicts sales will exceed 200,000 after an overhaul of the title this summer. Harris said there was also potential for Red to expand via various joint ventures in Europe.

By Ruth Addicott

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