Carweek, EMAP’s most expensive and high-profile magazine for a decade, closed this week with an admission by the publisher that it misjudged the market.
The closure, only 18 months after its launch, is an embarrassing and costly setback for the company, which prides itself on its experience in the car sector.
“The car market has become very competitive, but the weekly sector is smaller than we thought – there just isn’t room for three titles,” says EMAP Consumer chief executive Tom Maloney.
Carweek was designed to become the flagship title in EMAP’s car publication portfolio, but encountered problems almost immediately after its blockbuster launch, thought to have cost EMAP about £3m.
Its sales fell far short of the initial advertiser guarantee of 110,000, despite EMAP’s increasing use of bulk sales, which made up about a third of circulation.
Maloney blames the initial failure on the magazine’s A3 format, which made it impossible for newsagents to position the title among its car market competitors on the shelf. However, sales continued in the doldrums even after its relaunch as a more conventional A4 magazine on coated paper in August.
“This reflects publishers’ decreasing patience with new launches – even where they have invested heavily,” says one media independent. If a title is not making a month-by-month profit after the first 18 months, there is pressure to close it, he adds.