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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Venus on sale: Playboy returns to WH Smiths




Triple P was in WH Smiths on Waterloo station on Friday evening and noticed that they had Playboy on sale for the first time in many years.  WH Smiths is Britain's biggest and oldest (established 1792) newsagents but banned the sale of adult magazines such as Playboy, after pressure from feminists, in 1997. WH Smith's wouldn't admit this, of course, and just said it was due to reduced demand.  However, this was only in its 550 High Street shops; in its 187 airport and railway station (Smiths opened its first railway station shop in 1848) shops the magazines continued on sale.  Three years later they announced they would be re-introducing them in the high street before campaigners forced a u-turn.  This didn't effect profits though, because in their role as Britain's biggest magazine producer, with 45% of the market, they distributed 80 adult titles to independent newsagents and received 17% of the cover price for doing so.  The retail and distribution arms were de-merged in 2006.


Playboy uncovered


Recently. Smiths has given in to campaigners (they were holding out in 2011 when the Co-op was pushing for covers on lads' mags) and put covers on its adult magazines.  Better this than not selling them and we think this may actually boost sales.  Interestingly, we were in  a branch of WH Smiths in Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport last week and there were no covers on their adult magazines.  Whether this will come or whether they will treat airport shops differently remains to be seen. Certainly, it has got to be good for Playboy's sales given the difficulty of finding anywhere that sold it in the UK.  Latterly, the only adult magazines on sale in Smith's airport and railway station shops were those published by Paul Raymond Publications, such as Mayfair and Men Only. Playboy had been dropped. This made it very difficult to get the magazine in Britain. Triple P only knew of one small newsagents in St Martin's Lane in London and the nearby Cinema Store which stocked it regularly.  Now we have to decide whether to support WH Smith's for re-stocking it or continue to support the independent shops we bought it from before. 

4 comments:

  1. Don't they have subscriptions in England? In the US, we can get a one year subscription for $19.68. The sub. for the monthly "Collector's Edition" is $49.97 a year (cover price is $12.99). Playboy is a very strangely run company now that it just concentrates on brand marketing, with the magazine a distant secondary concern. I suppose they keep the magazine open just to keep the old man (Hef) happy. Even his boys don't seem all that enthused by it.

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    1. You can't get a sub from Playboy here that is for US customers only. You can get one from a third party magazine subscription seller. They charge £68.99 ($115) for a year's subscription and that works out more expensive than buying them individually!

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  2. Working around the corner fromWaterloo I feel I should pop over and support this fine development....

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  3. I still find it difficult forgiving WH Smith for their treatment of Gay News. Neither the distribution or retail sides allowing its sale. It may be 30 years ago but I need a good grudge to keep me going at my age.

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