Auditel Tightens The Lady Magazine’s Purse Strings

The Lady Magazine was founded in 1885 by Thomas Gibson Bowles, the maternal grandfather of the Mitford sisters, who wanted to create a “lite” version of Vanity Fair, which he had founded in 1868.Famous for its classified adverts, The Lady remains the first port of call for anyone seeking domestic staff, with vacancies listed for nannies, butlers and governesses. The Prince of Wales and Queen Mother are believed to have used it, and the Duchess of York famously once advertised for a dresser. The Lady is the oldest women’s weekly, and is thought to be the oldest magazine still owned by one family. It continues to operate out of a Victorian building on Bedford Street in Covent Garden, central London.

Ben Budworth took over as Publisher and Chief Executive in 2008. The famous magazine, which since the sixties had been owned by his uncle, was very run down and in desperate need of modernisation. Embarking on a crusade to revitalise this embattled brand, Ben turned The Lady, which had previously been a partnership, into a limited company, with his mother and siblings as shareholders.

He immediately halved the workforce, scrapped the outdated typesetting methods and set a goal of transitioning The Lady to be platform independent whether in newsagents, on the internet, on TV or on the radio.

When the readership was researched, it was discovered that the average age was 78, there were no circulation plans or subscriptions and their associated offers were still being fulfilled in-house. Ben remembers, “The Lady was stuck in a time warp, doing its best to ignore the digital age. The editorial was irrelevant. The magazine out of touch and out of place and archaic working practices were still being employed.”

Cost management was an important part of this planned transformation since supplier contracts, which had been in place for many years, hadn’t ever been reviewed. Auditel was recommended to Ben by his Sales Director in 2010. They deliver cost and purchase management services to clients in well over 100 areas of business costs and have over 200 specialists covering the country. Ben was keen to see what could be achieved.

Ben enthuses, “Over the last year Colin [Colin Simmons, Auditel Consultant] has proved to be a valuable resource for us. I was impressed that he didn’t simply switch to the lowest bidder, but found the supplier that best suited out needs. By outsourcing our cost and purchase management, we have not only made savings, but also saved ourselves the time and cost of doing it in-house.”

Auditel have made welcome reductions for The Lady in three main areas so far. Electricity costs have been lowered by 11%, credit card charges by over 17% and, most significantly, stationery and IT consumables by an impressive 20%. Ben is genuinely enthusiastic about his experience with Auditel. “Colin is quiet, honest, open, discreet and transparent. I would recommend him to other businesses without hesitation.”