BAUER AXES GRAZIA AUSTRALIA: Grazia is the first high-profile casualty of the difficult Australian retail and advertising market. Australian licensee Bauer Media said Thursday evening that Grazia’s Feb. 25 edition will be its last. The statement pre-empted Friday’s release of the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations data, which reports sales declines at all 13 audited weeklies. Grazia was the worst performer, experiencing a 24 percent sales drop year-on-year in the September-December quarter to 40,893 copies — on top of a 20 percent loss reported in the preceding June-September 2012 audit.

Bauer Media chief executive officer Matthew Stanton said, “Market dynamics are not able to sustain Grazia’s weekly format. Bauer and Mondadori have therefore reluctantly concluded that Grazia is not commercially sustainable in this market.”

Launched with a marketing budget of 7 million Australian dollars, or $6.6 million at average exchange, in July 2008, Grazia Australia’s debut issue sold nearly 100,000 copies. Within three years circulation had halved and analysts predicted Bauer Media would axe the title to make room for its planned relaunch of Elle in September after an 11 year hiatus of the title in the market. Elle will be Bauer’s first launch since it acquired Australia’s biggest magazine publisher ACP Magazines in September 2012 for 500 million Australian dollars, or $512 million.

Apart from modest increases at independent titles RUSSH (6.4 percent), Frankie (4.3 percent) and Vogue Australia (2 percent), all other Australian fashion titles experienced circulation declines in the 12 months to June 2012, a number of them in the double digits, according to the ABC’s most recent monthly audit figures.

Nevertheless, several other publishers share Bauer’s optimism. They include Grazia Australia’s launch editor Alison Veness-McGourty, who holds the Asia Pacific license for Zac Publishing’s 10 and 10 Men magazines and launched Australian versions earlier this month, with Hong Kong and Singapore editions in the pipeline for 2014.

On March 3, News Ltd.’s NewsLifeMedia will swap its Sunday Magazine insert with the new, fashion-focussed Sunday Style, inside Australia’s biggest Sunday mastheads with a combined audience of 2.4 million, The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) and Sunday Herald Sun (Melbourne). Then in April, KAREN Media director Marian Simms will launch a new quarterly fashion and lifestyle title in Mandarin called Koncierge, aimed at Australia’s one million Chinese residents and the burgeoning Chinese tourism market. “I think they’re [all publishers] reaching for the stars,” said Fusion Strategy media analyst Steve Allen. “If anyone’s going to work it’s Elle. But it’s just too tight a market with too many competitors.”

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