Axe falls on 15 in major cull at US Dennis

Fifteen top executives and editors at Dennis Publishing in New York have been told their services are no longer needed, in the first mass firing since the company crossed the water to the US in the mid-Nineties.

The departures include Keith Blanchard, who has been with the company since 1997 and served until recently as editor-in-chief of Maxim, and Andy Pemberton, editor-in-chief of Blender. It was, according to staff, “a blood bath”.

The company’s West Coast operation is also being cut back. According to a spokesman for the company, it had suffered “financial problems” and needed time to evaluate its position.

Maxim was a big success when it first hit the US, but its appeal has cooled. Advertisement pages are down 13 per cent and newsstand sales are down 15 per cent.

The spokesman admitted the company had become “top heavy” and an overhaul was necessary. “It’s a difficult decision, but necessary,” he added.

The biggest surprise was the dismissal of Blanchard, although there was a portent when earlier this year he was “kicked upstairs” after Ed Needham was lured from Rolling Stone to take over the editorship ofMaxim.

Pemberton admitted he was taken aback by his dismissal. Asked if he had heard from Felix Dennis, he said: “He’s off on his poetry reading tour. Maybe he will write a poem about this.”

By Jeffrey Blyth in New York

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