01 January 2000

Debt-beset IPC Magazines has announced the launch of Beme.com, a website dedicated to ‘wimmens is-sues’, throwing down the gauntlet to Associated Newspapers’ Charlottestreet.com and Hollinger’s Handbag.com.

IPC, whose distaff stable includes Marie Claire, Woman’s Own and Chat, insists that Beme.com will not be an electronic rehash of its existing titles. Said recently appointed chief executive Sly Bailey: 'This is not about putting the magazines on the web. We have the UK’s largest portfolio of women’s magazines and we feel we understand women better than anyone. There are now more women under twenty-four online than men, and understanding how the web fits into their lives is crucial.' Ms Bailey, who knows how to turn a neat sound-bite, described the efforts of Beme’s rivals as a 'cross between a textbook and fruit machine', and proclaimed that IPC’s effort will be utterly unlike that.

Which is as well, given that the launch announcement was timed to distract attention from IPC’s latest results - a disastrous 64% plunge in annual pre-tax profits to £10.5m.