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The Big Issue



Publication Year



Since 1991, The Big Issue magazine had been a lifeline for more than 15,000 homeless people. Established as a for-profit social business, it was a means for vendors to earn money in order to improve their own situations. 'Helping the homeless to help themselves' was the Big Issue's mantra. This was based upon the founders' unshakeable belief that homeless people wanted opportunity, not handouts. The Company's independence had enabled it to become a vocal critic of government policies that had left thousands to sleep rough on the streets. Towards the middle of 2001, more than 6 million copies were being sold. The vendor network was 2050 strong and the £35 averaged each week had an important impact on each vendor's life. The magazine's brand was ranked amongst the top 5 in Britain. Yet the Big Issue was facing the same downturn as the mainstream publishing and advertising sectors. Sales and advertising revenues had peaked in 1998 and there was no sign of re-growth. The company was losing money for the third consecutive year. Unless something changed, it was headed for even tougher times.

LBS Case Number


Publication Research Centre


Available on ECCH


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