Top-seller The Net is victim of web commerce collapse


Haymarket has closed its market leading internet magazine The Net following a sharp downturn in sales and advertising.

Publisher Sian Rees said the title had suffered from a general decline in the internet sector. She claimed it was a "very unusual set of circumstances" for Haymarket but said the closure was "reflective of a market that has failed dramatically".

Staff were told about the move last Friday. Six editorial staff are involved. Two have been made redundant and four have been offered alternative jobs at Haymarket.

Technical editor Daniel Grabham said it was the second time he had been made redundant in four months, having previously had his job cut on the rival title .net at Future. He said he was now considering other areas of journalism due to the present difficulties in the internet sector. "I am thinking of broadening out. This is the second time it’s happened in four months," he said.

The Net launched in 1999 in a bid to cash in on the internet boom. It was re-designed and re-positioned last year to attract an older audience. Although it remained ahead of its competitors in the February ABCs with a circulation of 52,600, The Net recorded a fall of almost 12 per cent on the previous year and an even bigger drop of 21 per cent, period on period.

The second biggest magazine in the sector, Business 2.0, closed earlier this year with sales of 50,839. The third biggest, .net, has also been hit by redundancies.

Although Rees played down its impact, some believe The Net also suffered from competition from IPC’s new launch Web User. "Our research shows they grew the sector slightly at the beginning but we don’t think the initial impact they have had will be sustained," Rees said.

Kevin Costello, managing director of Haymarket Consumer Publications, said: "Along with every other publisher, we have seen both advertising and circulation figures decline over the past 12 months; a decline which matches the well documented collapse of the internet and e-commerce industries. The internet magazine market place is now highly crowded and facing fierce competition from coverage in a wide variety of media." The November issue of The Net will be the last.

By Ruth Addicott

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