May launch for N&S's new women's weekly

Northern & Shell is planning to launch its new women’s weekly next month, Press Gazette has learned.

Two former Emap staff are working on the title, codenamed Project Panther. Sarah May, ex-deputy editor at More, will be editor and Charlotte Ward, a former staffer at Heat, will be deputy editor.

Project Panther is expected to be Northern & Shell’s first foray into the real-life sector – with a mix of real stories and celebrity, similar to Emap’s Closer, according to an industry source.

The launch will be the fourth in Northern & Shell’s stable, which includes Star, New and OK! magazines. Star was its last weekly launch in November 2003. Since then, it has concentrated on launching OK! in the US and on Happy magazine, its monthly shopping guide.

But the publisher closed Happy last month, blaming its decline on competition from Emap’s Grazia and IPC’s newly launched Look.

Earlier this year, News International abandoned its plans for a new women’s weekly – Project Dannii – claiming it would concentrate on its newly won contract for Sky: the magazine, the UK’s biggest-circulating magazine.

The celebrity sector remains a popular hunting ground for publishers. Northern & Shell’s Star has claimed the title of the “fastest-growing”

celebrity weekly, increasing its circulation 26.3 per cent to 269,723 in the last ABCs.

OK! took the top spot for total sales, helped by celebrity wedding exclusives, but only 546,812 of its 624,091 were domestic sales.

Emap’s Closer was the biggest UK weekly celeb title, with Heat a close second.

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