Slumping sales could spell end for B

B, Hachette Filipacchi’s monthly glossy for young women, has been suspended "until further notice" following a 10 per cent sales drop in the second half of 2005.

The publisher said it would halt publication from the May issue, on sale next week, pending an internal review, but would not comment on the reasons for the decision.

The magazine had a circulation high of 230,000 in 1998, but has seen sales fall steadily since then to 150,536 copies a month.

It was relaunched under editor Fran Sheen in July 2004, and saw a 30 per cent sales increase in the following six months, but sales then fell again and Sheen was replaced with former Cosmopolitan deputy editor Nina Ahmad.

Ahmad and 19 other staff on the title have now entered a consultation period on the future of the title and their roles on the magazine.

A spokeswoman for Hachette said: "The review will last 30 days and a decision on the future of the title will be made on completion of this review.

"Approximately 20 staff in total have entered a consultation period today, which will last 30 days.

"Any further announcement about B will be made by Hachette following completion of the review. No further comment will be made at this time."

Although B fared badly in February’s ABCs, it was not alone in the glossy market in suffering a sales drop.

Of all the titles aimed at younger women, only the fashion-focused titles, Elle, Vogue and In Style showed sales increases, with even the seemingly unstoppable Glamour showing its first decisive sales drop since launch, down 5.5 per cent to 585,984 copies a month.

Commentators have blamed the "Grazia effect" — the rising popularity of weekly titles, particularly Emap’s one-year-old launch success — for the sector’s troubles, although others have pointed to a difficult retail market.

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