News International bids hello to celebrity editor

By Alyson Fixter.

News International has confirmed its magazines division will launch a women’s weekly in the autumn, and has hired former Hello! editor Maria Trkulja for the project, a move which suggests the new title will compete with both Hello! and Richard Desmond’s OK!

The title will be News Magazines’

third launch in 2006, following true-life weekly Love It! in January and Inside Out this month.

The company trademarked a series of possible magazine names in July last year, with "Treat!" and "Juicy" coming up as possibilities for the Trkulja project.

Trkulja worked on Reveal, The National Magazine Company’s true-life and celebrity hybrid, until she left last year to "pursue other projects", fuelling speculation at the time that she had been picked to edit a new NatMags real-life launch.

But that launch, Real People, which came out last month, is being edited by Vicky Mayer, and Trkulja has now re-emerged at News Magazines, where she joins chief executive Camilla Rhodes and editorial director Judy McGuire.

A spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that Maria Trkulja has joined News Magazines to work on new projects for the company.

"The first of those projects is a women’s weekly magazine scheduled for later this year, however we cannot confirm at this stage which sector the magazine will operate within or its title.

"Given Maria’s extensive experience in women’s magazines, this is yet another valuable appointment for the company."

Trkulja, a former deputy editor of IPC’s Now, was editor in chief at Hello!

for eight months in 2002-3. She reportedly resigned following a clash with the magazine’s Spanish owner, Eduardo Sanchez Junco, who wanted more editorial control.

The celebrity weekly sector is an obvious target for News Magazines, following a bumper ABC period that saw the market leaders’ sales shoot up.

Reveal itself was up 44 per cent to 345,502, while OK! put on 22 per cent of sales to top the celeb weekly market with a circulation of 649,777.

Despite its lack of experience in magazine publishing, established rivals are wary of News Magazines because of the pulling power of the cross-promotional and sampling opportunities in stablemates The Sun and the News of the World.

Love It! was heavily promoted and sampled in the newspapers and saw above-target sales, according to industry insiders.

It is rumoured to have even outsold IPC’s one-year-old Pick Me Up, which recorded average weekly sales of 491,669 in the June to December period last year.

Love It! is edited by Karen Pasquali Jones, who originally worked on the launch of Pick Me Up at IPC, but left after disagreements over the direction of the magazine.

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