Eve Cameron, founding editor of Zest, and Alison Pylkkanen, editor of She magazine, have agreed to swap jobs.
The unexpected move at The National Magazine Company was orchestrated by Justine Southall, new publishing director of the Young Women’s Group.
Southall, who joined NatMags less than two months ago, said it was the first phase of development for the titles – both of which reported a decline in the latest ABCs.
Speaking to Press Gazette, Pylkkanen said: "We had both been on the titles a fair amount of time and there was a view that it may be a good idea to move around."
Southall said Cameron and Pylkkanen were very experienced editors and they would be able to look at the magazines with a fresh eye.
She insisted the decision was "mutual" and that both Cameron and Pylkkanen had been involved in discussions beforehand. It was "not something that had been dropped on them from a high height", she said. "It is a process we undertook together." She magazine reported a 14 per cent fall on the previous period to 182,790 in the most recent ABCs. Although Zest did slightly better (down 7.5 per cent period-on-period), it posted a fall of 14 per cent on the previous year to 110,120.
Southall said both titles would receive a significant financial boost from NatMags.
They would not be repositioned but both the editorial structure and the design would change early next year. "Zest is in a position to capitalise on the boom in the health and fitness market," she added.
Staff on the magazines were called into a meeting and told about the move last week. Insiders say the news took both teams by surprise.
Although NatMags has switched the roles of publishers in the past, it is unusual for a job swap to involve two editors.
Pylkkanen played it down, however, claiming the culture had changed and was now one that "expects and welcomes change".
"Although on the day people might say, ‘Oh Lord, I didn’t expect that’, people adjust very quickly," she said.
Pylkkanen has worked for NatMags since 1987, when she joined as a sub-editor on Good Housekeeping.
She was promoted to deputy editor four years later and, after a brief spell editing Good Housekeeping’s Wedding magazine, she took over She as editor in 1995.
Cameron created the concept for Zest in 1994, before it went monthly in 1996. Prior to Zest, she was health and beauty director of Cosmopolitan.
By Ruth Addicott