Company aims to bag shoppers

By Ian Reeves

The National Magazine Company is launching a title for high street shopping addicts next month. The first issue of Shop! has been produced by the Company editorial team, led by Sam Baker, and will be bagged up with Company’s September issue.

Shop! is based on a hunch by Baker and Company publishing director Justine Southall that there is a huge demand for simple, down-to-earth information about affordable clothes for real people.

They believe Shop! will appeal to females aged between 15 and 50 – a far broader demographic than Company, whose readers tend to be between 18 and 32.

The team has been “banging away about it” to management for 18 months and finally got the go-ahead this year. No focus groups have been involved. The first issue will be a “live” test, and research will be carried out into whether it can be sustained as a stand-alone brand. Southall is enthusiastically optimistic that it can. The second issue is planned for next spring, although she refuses to predict how many copies a stand-alone Shop! would sell.

“It’s not about fashion, it’s about fashionable. It’s about clothes people can afford,” said Baker of the first issue, which she says required an operation of “military-precision” by fashion director Oonagh Brennan to organise the pictures of all the high street styles. All were shot in-house. The issue has a huge editorial/advertising ratio – with 88 of its 100 pages given over to pictures of shoes, clothes and beauty products and short, snappy editorial about them.

“We’re a nation obsessed by shopping, yet there’s no magazine out there to feed that addiction,” said Southall. Dennis Publishing’s PS magazine closed in 2001 two years after a launch that saw initial sales of 100,000, but Southall said there was “simply no other magazine out there for women that provides the breadth of content that Shop! will”. She added: “The barometer is whether people in the building try to nick it. It’s not even been produced yet and people are trying to sneak off with pages. Amy in the legal department is beside herself.”

Baker said: “If I ever see it on someone’s coffee table, I’ll know we’ll have failed. It should be grubbing around in the bottom of women’s handbags because they keep taking it with them when they go shopping.” The new title is perfect bound and handbag-sized.

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