NatMags gets into shape to develop fitness market

The health, wellbeing and fitness sector will be a priority
for launches from the National Magazine Company following its new joint
venture in the UK with Men’s Health publisher Rodale International.

NatMags and Rodale have been locked in talks for the past 12 months
but the first staff knew about it was this week. The move will give
NatMags a long-term licence to publish Men’s Health and Runner’s World,
as well as creating a platform to launch titles.

NatMags will also gain a bigger presence in the men’s sector. Men’s
Health is currently the fourth biggest men’s title in the UK after FHM,
Loaded and Maxim, and sells 220,446 compared with NatMags’ Esquire’s
70,164.

Duncan Edwards, managing director of Nat Mags, said there was little
overlap and the titles would benefit from cross-promotion, marketing,
advertising and subscriptions. He said there would be no job losses and
staff at Rodale would move into the sixth floor of NatMags’
headquarters in central London by the summer.

“We believe these two magazines have the ability to grow. It’s all
about growth and trying to find opportunities in the UK where you are
going to see better than average growth.

“We also believe there will be an opportunity for us to do new things out of this venture,” he told Press Gazette.

“The scope of the joint venture is defined as the health, wellbeing
and fitness market so that is the area we will be looking to exploit.
Whether that means opportunities in the men’s or women’s field, or
Runner’s World which is both, has yet to be seen.”

Gianni Crespi, president of Rodale International, also highlighted
plans for expansion. “Overall, the market assumption is that this
market segment is going to grow significantly over the next few years,”
he said.

Meanwhile, Dennis Publishing revealed its intention to exit the
women’s fitness market and has relinquished its licence to publish
Shape from August. Owner American Media Inc is now seeking a new
publishing partner.

Dennis chief executive Alistair Ramsey said that although sales had
increased from 30,000 to 70,000, advertising revenue was disappointing.

By Ruth Addicott

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