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Stylist Group revenues fall by fifth in year that saw men's mag Shortlist close

Revenues at Stylist Group fell by almost a fifth during a “significant year of transformation” in 2018/19 during which it closed free men’s magazine Shortlist and rebranded as a company.

The publisher’s turnover fell by 17.8 per cent to £18.8m in the year to 31 March 2019, according to new accounts filed with Companies House.

It reported a pre-tax loss of £8.8m, compared to a loss of £8.6m the previous year.

In November 2018, Shortlist Media announced it was planning to close the print edition of its flagship men’s title Shortlist and rebrand to Stylist Group, named after its continuing free women’s magazine.

Shortlist was then the biggest free men’s magazine in the UK with a distribution of 502,667 copies a week. Its website relaunched in May and is now largely funded by affiliate links in product reviews.

The average number of editorial employees at the group fell from 75 in 2018 to 52 in 2019, while digital staff fell from 29 to 18. A video team was launched at Stylist and now has a team of six.

Redundancy payments totalled £855,588 in 2019, compared to £329,237 the previous year.

In a statement, company director Ellis Watson said it was a “significant year of transformation” as the company focused on its “strategy to align activities entirely to the growing female business”.

“The newly formed Stylist Group continues investment in digital scale and video properties,” Watson said.

“Stylist magazine continues to grow share of print advertising within the women’s magazine market, while acceleration of digital audience on Stylist.co.uk is underway.”

Stylist had an average print distribution of 404,392 in January to June 2019, according to the latest ABC figures.

Its website reaches more than 2m monthly unique visitors each month, according to Comscore figures released last year.

Watson added: “Alongside a large scale digital transformation, the Stylist brand and business will expand into new interest areas, increasing the depth of relationship with this audience.

“The board continues to see opportunities to develop and grow the brand influence, audience scale and revenues as we build outside of the traditional business base and prepare well in advance for the ongoing structural changes.”

The closure of Shortlist contributed to a drop in magazine advertising revenues of five per cent at Stylist Group owner DC Thomson, which saw its pre-tax profits fall by three-quarters during the same period.

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