Zoo shake-up as Nuts heads for 80k lead in debut ABCs

Zoo has had a big shake-up in advance of the ABC results next week – poaching journalists from top celebrity titles Now and Closer.

The battle between the two men’s weeklies, Nuts and Zoo, will come to a head next week with the release of their first ABCs following months of aggressive price-cutting and multimillion-pound advertising campaigns.

While Nuts has signed up Jordan as a columnist and is expected to report an ABC of about 280,000 – ahead of Zoo’s 200,000 – the gap is believed to have closed on the news-stands.

Zoo editor Paul Merrill told Press Gazette: “Both magazines have been very successful launches, but we’re taking this ABC with a pinch of salt as both mags now sell more or less the same. We’re still on course for clear market leadership.”

Eric Fuller, group publishing director for Nuts, insisted it had “a consistent lead” over Zoo and sales were more than 200,000, but he declined to comment on the exact figure.

Early estimates showed the first two issues of Nuts sold more than 550,000 each, while initial sales of Zoo were just under 150,000.

On signing Jordan he said: “I don’t think she will be writing about the annual report of the International Monetary Fund, but she will be commenting on the hottest issues of the day.”

Zoo is also hoping to boost its celebrity coverage. This week it lured Chris White, senior feature writer and “party animal editor” on Now to be its showbiz editor and Doug Shields from Closer to be news editor.

Shields has a news background on The Sun and Merrill described White as “a brilliant showbiz journalist much valued by IPC”. Merrill said his intention was to make Zoo “the number one weekly for showbiz exclusives”.

Zoo’s former showbiz editor Mark Dinning and news editor Indira Das-Gupta both quit to go freelance.

The sports pages have also been redesigned and two new sections added. Row Z and Fact! offer “a fan’s eye view” from the terraces and statistics.

Television editor Andrew Pettie has moved up to the newly created role of entertainment editor; sub-editor Rebecca Nicholson is the new music editor and reviews assistant Nicola Dibben has been promoted to film editor.

NEW CHALLENGERS

The men’s market is anticipating the launch of two weeklies – Project Sue from Bauer, believed to be called Cut, and another entertainment weekly from Richard Desmond registered as KO!.

Led by former Men’s Health editor Simon Geller, secret presentations for Cut have promised advertisers it will combine humour, women and gadgets and “know-how” with a weekly impetus – topical news and sport.

Industry insiders say the launches will pose an even bigger threat to FHM, Loaded, Maxim and Front which are all believed to have lost sales to the weeklies.

By Ruth Addicott

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