Partwork magazine Hachette Build Your Own Routemaster

The partwork market has recorded a three-year-record number of launches reaching shelves in the past 12 months.

On average, one collection has been launched every month for the past six months, with last week seeing two new series – Hachette’s Disney Dolls House and Byline’s Total Tarrot – brought to market.

Marketforce, which distributes most partworks available through news wholesalers, told betterRetailing the trend was set to continue. Circulation manager Rob Humphrey said: “The message is for stores to expect more launches this year than last year, and a range of different products.

“We’ve had good sales on the launches, and consumers are coming back again and again. Sales retention has been good, and that’s why we’re continuing to launch titles.”

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He cited the Eddie Stobart partwork, which is published by Hachette, as an example. Despite modest initial sales, the haulage-lorry-themed partwork retained nearly every one of its collectors beyond issue 15. “These people are going in every week and getting their partwork, spending £10, and probably more in store,” said Humphrey.

Hachette was equally upbeat. Logistics and distribution manager Paul Smith told betterRetailing: “In spite of challenging conditions over the past two years, Hachette partworks have moved forward with new tests and national launches. It has proved the market is very resilient, and will continue to be.

“We will also continue our substantial investment in the newstrade. Hachette has three new national launches, as well as four tests, for this year. It would be a great help to the market as a whole if some of our competitors shared our confidence.”

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Humphrey added that further partwork tests and launches were planned for 2022, and hinted that some publishers that had exited partworks, or paused newstrade sales, were considering a return to shelves. “The performance of partworks such as Warhammer and Eddie Stobart have boosted confidence to launch this year,” he said.

With confidence comes marketing support, added Humphrey. “Watching TV over the past weeks I’ve seen lots of Build The Titanic adverts,” he said. “They drive people to stores, and independent shops, which are the biggest single retail group in partworks sales, benefit.”

Asked to reveal details about what’s coming next from Hachette, Smith said: “We have a launch planned for February. A premium-priced collection based upon one of the biggest brands in the world will drive even more revenue into retailers’ tills.”

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