EMAP in multi-million pound bid to move flagship title upmarket

EMAP is undertaking a multi-million pound relaunch of its beleaguered men’s title FHM as the publishing company attempts to complete a restructure.

FHM

EMAP is undertaking a multi-million pound relaunch of its beleaguered men’s title FHM as the publishing company attempts to complete a restructure.

The relaunch, expected to come as early as autumn, will include moving the title towards an older readership, with a more premium positioning and also an increased cover price of the monthly title. FHM is currently available for £3.50.

It will also involve a complete new look, with fresh content and design.

EMAP has been sounding out media buyers to gauge their opinion on the potential of the new look for its market-leading title.

An EMAP spokeswoman confirms the relaunch and says that the decision was taken in an attempt to keep FHM’s “sexy and funny values” but move it into a more “valuable package”.

A key motive behind the overhaul is an effort to lure more premium advertising. EMAP also wants to separate it from competing weekly magazines Nuts and EMAP sister title Zoo as well as monthly rivals such as Maxim and Loaded.

It is EMAP’s second attempt to reposition the magazine in under two years. Media buyers condemned last year’s refresh, which attempted to narrow its readership focus to 25-30 year olds, as not going far enough.

Although the magazine will now be pitched at more upmarket readers, EMAP says it will not compete against Cond» Nast’s GQ and NatMags’ Esquire.

The latest Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) figures show that retail sales of FHM fell from around 410,000 in February 2005 to 252,000 in February 2006 – a 38.5% drop. However, its sales still eclipse those of Loaded and Maxim combined.

The relaunch follows reports that EMAP is looking to offload some of its underperforming titles, such as Arena and New Woman.

EMAP is still looking to fill its vacant chief executive’s role, following the departure of Tom Moloney in May. His departure followed shareholder unrest over company strategy and its slow implementation of its digital offering in particular. Headhunter Zygos is making a shortlist.

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