The Lady shakes off 'dusty' image with full-colour revamp

The Lady magazine is to unveil a new design and a series of editorial changes next week in an attempt to breathe ‘a shedload of fresh air’ into the 124-year-old title.

The changes at the family-owned magazine, which claims to be Britain’s oldest women’s weekly, have been led by new publisher Ben Budworth – who took over from his uncle Tom Bowles last November.

The Lady was launched by Budworth’s great-grandfather, Thomas Gibson Bowles, in 1885 and has remained in the same family ever since.

The redesigned magazine will use full colour for the first time, and a team of new writers has been hired to appeal to “intelligent, articulate women over 45”.

Budworth said the changes were the result of audience research – the first in the title’s history – which found that two thirds of its readers were over 65.

“I feel like I’ve taken on a stately pile that’s very very dusty,” he told Press Gazette.

“Everything’s here, it’s just a question of polishing it all up. Bringing it into the 20th century would be a start, but the 21st century ideally.

“The Lady doesn’t need a breath of fresh air. It needs a shedload of fresh air – it needs a tanker full of fresh air.”

The design changes have been overseen by former BBC Magazines art director Claire Wood and implemented gradually over the course of several issues.

Former Marie Claire associate editor Sarah Kennedy has been hired as editor-at-large and, informally, the title’s “minister of youth” to add new content to the title.

Budworth said The Lady would continue to distance itself from the other women’s weeklies and maintain its policy of “no sex, no celebrity gossip”.

“I think there is a resurgence for jam-making and knitting and sewing,” he added.

“Sometimes you get to the stage in life. There’s only a certain number of mountains you can climb, safaris you can go on.

“I’ve noticed that the WI seems to be doing nicely of late.”

The magazine, which is famous for its classified ads for holiday homes and domestic staff, is set to launch its first “proper website” later this week at lady.co.uk.

And although classified advertising across the media has fallen sharply in the economic downturn, Budworth said The Lady had seen worse and was well-placed to ride out the recession.

“The magazine’s been through the great depression and two world wars,” he said.

“It’s been through a heck of a lot. I intend it to be here for another 124 years.”

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