Magazine's fortunes receive boost

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 September, 1996, 12:00am

The American business magazine, Fortune, is to increase its Asian content.

The New York-based publication is to add about eight pages of Asian editorial for a regional edition launch in January.

It has also opened a bureau in Singapore and bolstered existing operations in Hong Kong and Japan.

The magazine added between 20 and 30 pages of editorial in a recent redesign when the 66-year-old publication changed its over-size format to the standard magazine size. The redesign cost about US$1 million.

Fortune has a worldwide circulation of 920,000 (up 10 per cent last year) with 60,000 in Asia (up 20 per cent in the past five years).

Michael Pepe, group publisher for Fortune, said the savings from reducing the magazine's size had been reinvested in providing more editorial content.

'The larger format, which was an historical sacred cow, had been around forever and it was something that wasn't bringing any value to the equation,' Mr Pepe said. 'The idea of freeing up those funds, including more pages, more editorial staff and faster delivery was a way to take an asset that was dead and turn it into a viable one beneficial to the reader and the advertiser.' In its new format, Fortune has expanded the Personal Fortune section and added Smart Managing and Digital Watch sections. New features include travel, hot industries and financial planning.

The magazine has been steadily increasing its Asian focus in the American edition since the start of the year.

The September 30 edition features Hong Kong Jockey Club, Hang Lung chairman Ronnie Chan, deal making in Beijing and Jardine Matheson's 20 per cent stake in the Indian company Tata Industries.

Rik Kirkland, Fortune deputy managing editor, said the Asian editorial made the magazine more relevant locally.

'A lot of the American focus is not relevant here. One of the natural places to tweak the editorial was to take the travel, investment and other areas and substitute Asian issues,' Mr Kirkland said. 'Another benefit we have in being here is we can take the good stories out of Asia and get them into the magazine for the worldwide readers. There is a lot of interest in this region.' The magazine reported a six per cent increase in its worldwide advertising revenues in the first half of the year. However, advertising monitoring company Asia-Pacific Adex lists Fortune's Asian ad revenue down 16 per cent for the same period.

Mr Pepe said: 'In Asia, we had record years in 1994 and 1995 and the business grew substantially. Even though business was slack in the first quarter [of 1996], we are expecting it to be close to double digit growth during the next 12 months.'