By Ruth Addicott
The Sunday Times Travel Magazine has launched on news-stands and is hoping to seize market leadership in the travel sector within the next 12 months.
Inspired by the success of the Sunday Times travel section, the 180-page, glossy bimonthly claims to be the most widely distributed travel magazine in the UK, sold in Sainsbury's and Tesco as well as WH Smith.
It is produced by River Publishing and edited by Brian Schofield - a regular contributor to the Sunday Times travel section and Arena and a former executive editor of GQ Active.
He is joined by deputy editor Justin Evans (former editor of BMW Magazine), art director Chris Krage (ex-Daily Express) and key travel writers from the Sunday Times David Wickers, Rob Ryan, Sean Newsom and Susan D'arcy.
Schofield said it was not a direct rival to the award-winning monthly CondÅ½ Nast Traveller - nor did he expect it to have any impact on their sales. "The idea is that this is not a mature market and we intend to lead and grow the market. Our sales targets massively exceed theirs," he told Press Gazette.
Times Newspapers is hoping for sales of 100,000. CondÅ½ Nast Traveller reported a latest ABC of 81,368.
Jamie Bill, publishing director of CondÅ½ Nast Traveller, agreed it was a "very different proposition".
"I don't think there is any ambiguity between what we are trying to do and what they are trying to do. We are a luxury magazine about good writing and good photography. Their production values are much less and they are more of a travel directory," he said.
Bill also questioned its target audience, claiming the cross-section of advertisers "don't sit happily together". He said: "It has mass-market cruises down the Danube and premium-priced holidays. It can't clearly be targeting both audiences. I think it sends out a rather confused message."
Despite his remarks, CondÅ½ Nast has invested a substantial sum at point-of-sale and in cross-
promotion. "It would be naive of us not to recognise a new entrant into the marketplace," Bill said.
Referring as well to the recent launch of Bauer's travel title threesixty¡, he said he was disappointed neither title had felt "confident enough" to launch as a monthly. "I think it's very difficult to build a relationship with your readership as a bi-monthly."
Schofield hit back: "It is a fantastic luxury to launch as a bi-monthly, because it gives us time to think it through properly and make changes, rather than just hammer out the first four issues," he said.