WHSmith range review could harm specialist mags, warns PPA

Ian Locks, CEO of the Periodical Publishers' Assocation said: "WHSmith has, over many years, positioned itself as a destination range retailer. If by its actions it is jeopardising this position, then that would be highly regrettable." To date, it seems bicycle mags are safe, even the newest, such as Singletrack
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Last week WHSmith announced a range review that would downgrade or drop completely over 70 percent of its specialist title range in a bid to boost the chain's drooping profits.

The reductions emerged from a review instigated by the company's new chief executive Kate Swann, who is looking down the barrel of a £940m takeover bid.

According to the media section of The Independent, many famous - but niche - magazines face the chop.

Sight and Sound magazine would be available in only 40 of the biggest WHSmith stores, down from 300 stores.

"The decision is completely crazy and what it will do is put a lot of small magazines out of business," John Innes, Sight and Sound's publisher told The Independent. "

History Today would be all but history itself, available in just 175 stores instead of 522.

Peter Furtado, the magazine's editor, said:

"WH Smith represents around 50 per cent of our sales; therefore a reduction of two-thirds will make the difference between publishing on news stands being economically viable or not.

WHSmith said the review was ongoing and was a "normal part of good retail practice."

If history and cinema mags can be impacted, how about bike mags? The bigger ones are safe, they come from publishing houses with lots of other titles and hence have bargaining power.

Niche titles from small, independent publishers have no such safety net.

Singletrack publisher Mark Alker told BikeBiz.com he's aware of the review but that the rider-owned magazine is safe "for the foreseable future."

"Despite the cuts Singletrack will continue to be stocked in 175 branches of WHSmith," said Alker.

He said the magazine was listed as a 'Must Stock' title in all the largest, city centre branches of WHSmith and is listed as 'Manager's Discretion' in a range of smaller WHSmith stores.

But, if WHSmith ever did pull the plug on Singletrack, the magazine has irons on other fires.

"Yesterday we were informed that Singletrack was to be upgraded in branches of Borders Bookshops. From issue 15 onwards Singletrack will be stocked in all 24 branches of the magazine and bookshop chain of stores," said Alker.

The magazine, with a print run of 18 000 an issue, is also available in 100 IBDs and on subscription by mailorder. Singletrack is available in newsagents in USA, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Holland, Germany, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and Japan.

http://www.singletrackworld.com

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