Meet the Team: Circulation

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Iain Mckenzie and Ashleigh Dennis are the people who make sure that readers can buy their “Friend” all over the world. We find out more about how they do this important job.

Tell us about your role(s) as part of the “Friend” team

Both: Our main responsibility is to ensure the “Friend” is available for sale in all the retailers across the UK and overseas. We forecast how many copies we think we will sell for each issue, and from this decide how many copies we need to print. We also decide on how to best to distribute the copies across all the retailers.  We distribute “The People’s Friend” to over 40,000 retailers across the globe.

We also provide regular sales reports back to the team on how sales of the “Friend” are performing as well as sales of our competitors.

Have you always worked in Circulation?

Iain: Yes, pretty much, since leaving university.  I previously worked for another magazine publisher based in London before moving back north in 2006 to join DC Thomson. I have had a number of jobs whilst at DC Thomson, including Circulation Manager of the Dundee “Courier” and “Sunday Post”, before moving back to my first love of magazines!

Ashleigh: After leaving University I started work as a circulation executive, mainly involved with the children’s magazines, back in 2009! I then moved on to work as a product manager within the operations department for a few years, where I was involved in our move over from our own presses to third-party printing, and also in ensuring our magazines were printed on time and to high standards, before moving back to circulation.

What would you do during a typical week?

Iain: My week can be quite varied, but always involves spreadsheets.  We analyse a lot of sales data, so regularly work on Excel. My office mug says “I love Spreadsheets”.

We have quite a lot of internal meetings about all the magazines the company produces. It’s great to work across such a variety of magazines from the “Friend”, to “Beano” and “Scots Magazine”.

My job also involves a bit of travel, and I meet regularly with our distribution company, Marketforce, who are based in London.

Ashleigh: I have a lot of involvement in our children’s magazines and my week can be spent analysing sales data for competitors, looking at the effects of promotions in shops and cover gifts. I also spend a lot of time reviewing our allocations and supplies to ensure we make the most out of our distribution, but that it’s commercially viable! Most of my work involves lots of numbers and detailed spreadsheets.

What are your favourite parts of your job?

Iain: Reporting our sales figures on a weekly basis, especially when the sales are good.  Which of course is always the case with “The People’s Friend”!

Ashleigh: I like working with such talented colleagues (like Iain) on promotional campaigns and point of sale.

What’s the most memorable or surprising example of your work with the “Friend”?

Ashleigh: I was very surprised when analysing our sales for The Friend at just how loyal our readers are.  Despite horrendously bad weather in February 2018, our readers were determined to get their copies and braved the elements!

Iain: We often get requests people all over the world looking to buy the “Friend” in their local area.  We currently sell “The People’s Friend” in countries as far away as South Africa and New Zealand.  It is really satisfying when we are able to connect new readers with their weekly “Friend”, no matter where in the world they are.

There’s been a lot of extra activity around the 150th anniversary – in what ways has Circulation been involved in this?

Both: This year has been really busy for us so far.  We set up a number of retail promotions to support the anniversary issue in January.  The 150th Anniversary Special went on sale in September and has done extremely well.  We worked very closely with our distributors on the placement of extra supplies for that to make sure readers would be able to see it and find it in the shops. And we are currently making arrangements to sell our “150 Years of Fiction”, which comes out in September this year.


Catch up with the rest of the important behind-the-scenes folk.

Marion McGivern

As editor of the cookery, money, pets and eco pages, Marion covers a wide range of regular Features content. Along with the rest of the Team, she enjoys finding interesting features for both the weekly and Special issues that readers will love. Having so much variety every day means that over ten years with the “Friend” has just flown by!