'Since I've joined, NW has had every bit of support drawn from it'

NW (New Woman) editor Lauren Libbert has blamed lack of support and competition from new weekly titles for the closure of the magazine.

Bauer Consumer Media has announced it is axing the women’s monthly title along with women’s weekly First two months after buying Emap’s consumer magazines division.

The jobs of 49 editorial staff hang in the balance, 19 on NW and 30 on first, as both titles have been suspended while a month’s consultation period takes place to decide their future, and to see if staff can be relocated elsewhere within the group.

Struggled

Libbert told Press Gazette that since she took the helm in May last year she has struggled with the lack of support from Emap.

She said: ‘Since I’ve joined, NW has had every bit of support drawn from it, we’ve had no marketing, we’ve had no support whatsoever. It’s basically a very tough market for the monthlies out there.

‘Unless you’re a super-glossy or one of the big fashion glossies it’s very hard. I think NW is not as profitable as it once was, and it is all about trying to see whether it’s worth investing any more in it to see if you can get your return.”

New Woman launched in 1988, seeing a steady rise in circulation until 2004. Since then circulation has flagged in the face of increased competition from weekly titles such as Grazia, Closer and Love It.

The title relaunched in October 2006, trying to draw inspiration from the weekly market by cutting the length of many of the articles in a bid to give it more pace.

The redesign failed to boost sales and the last ABC circulation figure for the title showed a 45.3 per cent decline year-on-year in the first half of 2007, down to 126,805. Circulation had previously peaked at 305,088 copies in 2001.

‘Weeklies do dominate, and I think that’s where all the investment is going,’said Libbert, ‘that’s been the Emap policy since I joined – it continued until this event.

‘We’re all very sad and very disappointed. People have attached a lot of sentimental value to NW. It would have been 20-years-old in August, it’s a real shame it never hit that mark.”

The decision to suspend NW and First was made by Bauer Consumer Media.

According to BCM, the decision to close the titles was recommended to the Bauer management in Germany by London Lifestyle managing director Marcus Rich.

Paul Keenan is the chief executive of BCM, after he transferred to Bauer and resigned from the Board of Directors of Emap on 4 February.

The announcement was made to both NW and First staff last Friday, and was a surprise to both. Staff at First, the weekly aimed at 30-40 something women that launched in 2006, were said to be especially shocked, as a number of them only joined in September last year when the title had a revamp, 18 months after its launch.

Suspended

The last issue of First was on the newsstand this week, with the title suspended thereafter, and the April issue of NW will be on sale at the end of February and will subsequently be suspended. Staff on both titles have been told they will have to go ‘sporadically’to the company’s Shaftesbury Avenue offices

while decisions are being made over their future.

First launched in 2006 as a news-orientated weekly aimed at women in their 30s, and failed to hit its target circulation of 150,000 – never rising much over the 100,000 mark.

Times columnist and former editor of Bauer’s That’s life! Janice Turner, said: ‘First could simply not persuade women that current affairs were as pressing an issue as fashion and celebrity. News, after all, is everywhere for free: the internet, free papers, the radio.

‘NW was at the end of its natural life. It had a bed in the hospice for dying magazines, along with Woman’s Own, Woman and Bauer’s own Bella.”

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