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HEAR THEM ROAR: The British women’s weekly magazine market is preparing for a dose of young blood this fall. In October, the London-based, privately held ShortList Media plans to launch a free, high-end glossy called Stylist, which is targeted at professional women ages 20 to 40, with a mix of fashion, beauty, travel and news features. Meanwhile, in September, British novelist and columnist Rachel Johnson, the younger sister of London’s eccentric mayor, Boris Johnson, will take over as editor of The Lady, one of Britain’s oldest — and quite possibly the fustiest — weekly magazines.
Stylist is aiming for circulation of 400,000 — roughly double that of the hugely successful weekly glossy Grazia — and will be hand-distributed in London and five other British cities including Glasgow.
Chief executive officer Mike Soutar, a former editor of FHM who brought Maxim to the U.S. and oversaw the release of the lad magazine Nuts, said he’s confident he’ll be able to repeat the success of ShortList, the free men’s weekly magazine that launched in September 2007, despite the dismal climate. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to be bold,” he said, adding that the feedback from potential advertisers was “very positive.” Soutar declined to give details about advertising or editorial other than to say that Lisa Smosarski, editor of More, the young women’s weekly title published by Bauer Media in London, would be taking over as editor.
Soutar said he believes there’s an “incredibly vibrant future” for magazines generally, and “massive space and room for a new title. I don’t think any of the other magazines need to suffer for us to be successful,” he said.
The Lady, Britain’s go-to magazine for nannies, domestic help and holiday home rentals, as well as advice on how to revamp your picnic menu and garden on a budget, won’t be going head-to-head with Stylist. First published in 1885, The Lady is now run by one of founder Thomas Gibson Bowles’ great-grandsons, Ben Budworth. With a circulation of 30,000, it caters to traditional women over 40 who tend to live in the suburbs and countryside.
Johnson, the outspoken author of “Notting Hell” and “Shire Hell” and a columnist for The Sunday Times of London and the Evening Standard, hasn’t said yet how she’s planning to take the title into the 21st century, but there’s no doubt The Lady is in for a culture shock.
— Samantha Conti