Handbags ?y as glossies scrap over size

The publishers of Glamour and Cosmopolitan were at loggerheads this week after Cosmo was accused of copying its rival by shrinking to handbag size to bolster sales.

Glamour publisher Condé Nast issued a tongue-incheek statement saying the news that Cosmo is to adopt the Glamour “handbag” size for part of its run this autumn had caused “enormous interest and amusement” as The National Magazine Company – which publishes Cosmo – had always asserted that the Glamour size wouldn’t catch on.

The statement even included an old quote from NatMags managing director Duncan Edwards calling Glamour “a little pygmy” and saying publishers would be “foolish” to hurdle straight to the new format.

Glamour publishing director Simon Kippin claimed the move was a desperate bid to regain market leadership. “I can only assume it is a desperate attempt to shore up a ?agging circulation performance.

Having been constantly critical about both the size and price of Glamour since our launch, NatMags must feel terribly embarrassed having to openly copy Glamour by dropping the price of Cosmo [July issue] and now matching our size,” he said.

Nicholas Coleridge, managing director of Condé Nast, also waded in, adding: “After everything NatMags has said about our Glamour format, this has to be the biggest strategic U-turn since Margaret Thatcher junked the poll tax. The words ‘desperate’ and ‘knee jerk’ do rather spring to mind.”

Edwards hit back, saying his rival’s claims were “absolute nonsense”. He told Press Gazette there were plans to run a test with the October issue of Cosmo, including 50,000 copies of a “travel size” version being distributed predominantly via WH Smith travel outlets such as railways and airports in London and the South East.

“We are going to test that proposition in Britain, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “It’s unlikely that Cosmo will overtake Glamour on its circulation this time around, we are just trying to make sure Cosmo delivers what it usually does. The truth is that Glamour didn’t invent that size. It was done by Harpers Bazaar in Australia four years ago.”

Cosmo has tested both sizes in Europe over the past year and the trials proved so successful, it is now sold in both formats at varying prices. Glamour stole market leadership from Cosmo last August, having launched in 2000.


By Ruth Addicott

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