Emap editor prepares to Face the music

The Face: sale price of about £3m

The Face editor Neil Stevenson is to make a final presentation to Emap executives in a last-ditch bid to convince them that the style magazine has a future.

The Face was put under review last week due to falling profits and Emap is desparate to find either a buyer or a radical new strategy by April. If not, it will have to close.

Staff took immediate action this week and sent out hundreds of e-mails to subscribers, contributors and advertisers, appealing to them to write in and support the magazine. Insiders claimed the office was swamped with more than 1,000 e-mails within the first few days and the team believes the response will add weight to the presentation.

The preferred option among most staff is for Emap to continue publishing it in its current format. However, the frequency, format and editorial direction will be high on the agenda and there are fears there could be job losses if The Face is relaunched as a quarterly.

Staff are also hoping that a buyer will emerge with the backing to take the magazine forward.

While a deal is more likely to be struck with an independent publisher than one of the bigger players, insiders believe the owners of titles such as Sleaze and Dazed & Confused would be unable to meet the asking price of about £3m.

Another option is for a wealthy celebrity, pop star or style guru to come forward. “Emap would happily sell it if it could find a buyer because it is such a strong name. Anything is possible because it is so famous,” a source said.

Doubts have been cast over the future of The Face ever since Emap acquired it from founder Nick Logan as part of Wagadon in 1999. Cynics warned it would become too mainstream under Emap and lose its edge.

The Face reported an ABC of 40,286 – down 7.8 per cent period-on-period – last month, but staff are convinced that with the right backing, it could make a dramatic comeback similar to that of sister title Arena.

Arena suffered a huge circulation slide, but recovered over the past 12 months to post an increase of 28 per cent in the latest ABCs, following editorial repositioning and marketing.

The Face had a major makeover last spring. One of its biggest-selling issues in the past year was the relaunch issue, which included a Best of The Face supplement. “If we did three of them, sales would go up by a significant percentage,” a source added.

By Ruth Addicott

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