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Grazia falls from grace

This article initially appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald

Words: Andrew Hornery

Rumours over the demise of celebrity magazine Grazia have become official after staff were told in a meeting at lunchtime on Thursday that the magazine is to close.

The move marks German publishing giant Bauer Media's first major scalp since paying $500million for the once iconic Australian publisher ACP last year.

Sources within the publishing company have confirmed that poor circulation and the need to divert funds to the imminent launch of Elle Australia had impacted Grazia. As word of the closure and the 30 jobs to go with it spread across the magazine industry on Thursday morning, it was not greeted as much of a surprise among rivals.

They cited poor circulation figures, the latest of which are due to be released on Friday, with Grazia expected to post a double digit drop on the previous corresponding period.

When it launched five years ago, the weekly fashion title Grazia, meaning grace in Italian, was intended to usher in a new era in fashion/celebrity media, focusing heavily on what stars wore rather than what they did.

Grazia has been hugely successful in other markets, including its home market Italy, where it was founded by Italian publishing company Mondadori, which licensed it to ACP.

However the magazine, which relied heavily on international content rather than local gossip, failed to gain serious traction with Australian readers, despite an unprecedented $7million launch budget.

Harper's Bazaar editor, Alison Veness-McGourty, was brought in as launch editor-in-chief of Grazia, with the company crowing about its initial sales topping 100,000. However, within three years sales had halved.

In January 2011 former Sydney Morning Herald fashion editor Kellie Hush was brought in to salvage the magazine, before moving on to the helm of Harper's Bazaar, leaving Grazia in the hands of Amy Molloy, a relative newcomer left to face the dismal prospect of falling sales, an advertising downturn and much tighter budgets.

In contrast Grazia has been a huge hit in the United Kingdom, with the UK edition selling 210,000 copies plus a week. There, the magazine is pitched with a much lower cover price, around $1.50 compared to $6 in Australia.

(Image via SMH)

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