Magazine world rocked by new closures and job cuts

Bailey says IPC looked at every option before axeing "loss-making titles"

Magazine journalists were dealt a major blow this week as two of the UK’s biggest publishers announced yet another round of redundancies.

IPC Media axed 115 jobs and closed six titles: the 74-year-old Woman’s Journal, Homes & Ideas, Your Garden, Marie Claire Health & Beauty, Practical Parenting’s Complete Guide to Pregnancy and its recent £2m launch Your Life. Approximately 60 per cent of the job losses will affect editorial.

Haymarket also announced staff cuts at titles which are believed to include PR Week, GP and Management Today. The company refused to reveal the full extent of the cost-cutting but staff fear it could amount to at least 20 job losses – most of them in editorial.

The news follows closures and 200 redundancies at United Business Media.

The move at IPC comes after its £1.15bn takeover by AOL Time Warner and 90 job losses announced in August. Sly Bailey, IPC’s chief executive, said the company had looked at every option. She denied suggestions that AOL Time Warner was only interested in titles with a global presence.

"Clearly we will be looking as we go forward at opportunities either to take IPC brands to the US or to bring Time magazines to the UK. But it would be totally wrong to say brands without global positioning are not part of our strategy. This is simply about these being loss-making titles," she told Press Gazette.

Although the reaction at IPC was said to be one of "shock and tears", magazine publishers warn there are more job losses to come, in line with the US where there have already been a number of magazine closures becuase of the advertising slump, including Mademoiselle last month.

Gill Hudson, editorial director of Eve at BBC Worldwide, claimed: "Time Inc just looks at the bottom line. It is absolutely ruthless about it. IPC is a remarkably domestic company and Time is a global player. Unless a magazine is a global property or is making a profit it will go."

Elsa McAlonan, a former editor of the Scottish Mirror, was hired by IPC to relaunch Woman’s Journal two years ago. Despite showing 20 per cent growth in its first year, sales are believed to have sunk to below 50,000.

Ironically, the title scooped the prize for the most improved magazine at the recent IPC Editorial Awards.

McAlonan said people this week were sad rather than bitter.

"There was no kicking and screaming, everyone behaved with a lot of dignity," she said. "There are some very talented people here and I am sure they will all get jobs elsewhere." The closure affects a number of top journalists, including deputy editor Lorry Spooner, who was poached from Marie Claire, and Sarah Ivens and Jenny Agnew, who were hired from the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday’s You magazine.

Sources claimed Woman’s Journal was starved of the marketing spend and TV advertising campaigns of In Style, Eve and Glamour. They said Woman’s Journal had been reinvented too many times and was relying on "word of mouth".

Bailey, however, claimed the magazine’s marketing budget had increased significantly over the past few months.

She said there were no plans to close any more titles but IPC would continue to review its portfolio.

"Trading conditions are extremely challenging and the advertising market is slower than we have seen for some time, but having said that we are a broadly based company and we feel very good about the future." Meanwhile, Quantum Business Media, which publishes Press Gazette, this week announced that 19 posts were being made redundant across the group. Two of the jobs are in editorial.

 

By Ruth Addicott

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