French cooking magazine Ricardo launches in English

Publisher promises advertisers a minimum circulation of 50,000

Unknown-1High-profile print magazine launches have become a rarity in recent years, as the twin forces of dwindling readership and ad revenue have led publishers to prioritize digital solutions.

According to Magazines Canada, launches have fallen from a high of 100 (88 English, 12 French) in 2004 to just 18 in 2012, the most recent year for which statistics are available.

Ricardo Larrivée is hoping to buck the trend with the upcoming launch of the English edition of his namesake French magazine. His company, Ricardo Media, will launch the English Ricardo on Sept. 15, promising advertisers a minimum circulation of 50,000.

The company plans to produce three issues of Ricardo this fall, jumping to six in 2015 and possibly eight beyond that.

The plan to create an English edition of the popular cooking magazine has been in place since Ricardo’s 2002 debut, said Marie-José Desmarais, who left Rogers Publishing in January to join Ricardo Media as publisher and director of international brand development.

An English edition did appear in the middle of the last decade, but fizzled out when Larrivée reacquired a stake in Ricardo Media from Power Corporation’s media unit Gesca, and subsequently focused his attention on building the French product.

Since then, Lavrivée has built a cooking empire that includes Ricardo, a series of cookbooks, Ricardo-branded cookware and a TV production company that has shows in both French (Radio-Canada’s Ricardo) and English (Food Network Canada’s Ricardo and Friends).

“Everything Ricardo touches turns into gold,” said Desmarais. “It’s a solid company that’s in growth mode. Our ambition is to grow the brand internationally, and our first step towards that is to become truly national with our Canadian edition.”

The French edition boasted 742,000 readers, 12+ per issue in the most recent Print Measurement Bureau report, up from 616,000 in the corresponding year-earlier report. The magazine has 44,000 subscribers, and typically achieves a newsstand sell-through rate of between 70-80%.

The website averages 14 million page views per month, growing to 21 million during key periods such as the holiday season.

Ricardo’s 164-page launch issue will have a print run of 125,000, a $6.99 cover price, and feature advertisers such as Biotherm and Nespresso. While most consumer titles boast a 50/50 ad to edit ratio, Ricardo will maintain a “very high” editorial to ad ratio of 70:30, said Desmarais.

While Desmarais would not divulge financial results, she said Ricardo itself is profitable. “It certainly can stand on its own, but it’s more successful because it’s part of a very large ecosystem that is truly multi-platform,” she said. “It’s a very healthy company and a very healthy magazine.”

While Ricardo’s core audience demo is women 25-54, Desmarais called it a “gender-neutral” title with a male/female audience split of 69-31%. “We’re targeting a very mixed audience of people passionate about eating well,” she said.


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