What’s On in Swansea, one of the city’s favourite local magazines, is this year (2017) celebrating its 30th year in business.
The magazine, published by Sketty Publications, was established by Welsh entrepreneur John Hughes in 1987. Prior to this, John produced three lifestyle magazines covering areas of Wales including Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend/Porthcawl.
Looking back on the earlier days of the What’s On in Swansea, John explains how it is now a completely different world to what it once was.
John Hughes explains:
“The booklets, as you would call them then, were a simple black and white design with spot colour covers. It’s crazy to think how far we’ve come. There were no computers back then, so it was a far more convoluted affair.”
In 1992, the magazine grew from a booklet to A5 size – an experimental phase for the business. Proving a successful move, What’s On in Swansea then developed its magazine to A4 size in 1993. This development enabled the publication to introduce further features and elements, increasing its revenue as a result.
Discussing the evolution of the magazine’s design, John explains it was “…way ahead of the graphic design wave at the time,” due to the magazine’s often illustrated and abstract covers.
Now, leading Welsh creative agency WATERS is responsible for the design and layout of the longstanding What’s On in Swansea magazine and has been since 2012.
WATERS’ lead print production manager, Rhianna Hatcher, explains working on the magazine is an extremely rewarding process. Rhianna said:
“We really enjoy working on the What’s On in Swansea magazine and it’s great for something so iconic in Swansea to still be going so strong in the local community.
“It gives our team great encouragement when they see the final version of the magazine printed. It’s a long process, as a lot goes into finalising each magazine’s issue, but the end result is something we are always extremely proud of. Our aim is to put the ideas of the team behind the magazine into a vision and then make it a reality.”
What’s On in Swansea is still very much a family run business, with John’s daughter, Holly Hughes, stepping in as editor in 2014.
Speaking of her experience of stepping into this editorial role, Holly commented:
“I’m humbled and delighted at the trust my family has instilled in me. I was given the title of editor three years ago and it’s been a steep learning curve. Editing comes with many responsibilities; determining and organising all of the content and keeping up-to-date with Swansea’s evolutions.
“I’m proud of the accolade my family and I have achieved through reaching 30 years in business. As a team, we’ve battled many recessions, holding our own in an increasingly competitive market. In an ever-evolving business, we’re constantly improving the magazine for all of our current and future readers.
“The Hughes family has provided a dedicated service to Swansea residents and visitors alike for many years, and may the success continue.”
John Hughes’ wife, Susan Hughes, is the magazine’s listings editor and accounts manager. Susan comments on the success of the business over the years and the challenges it has faced:
“For a small business, I’m thrilled that our success remains ongoing. Working in media is deadline orientated which presents many organisational demands. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to ensure the successful completion of each edition.
“Being a small business, each one of us has many responsibilities, but we always rise to the challenge and look forward to continue bringing you What’s On in Swansea.”