'Restructure' follows as Burda buys Essential

By Alyson Fixter

German publisher Burda is undergoing a "restructure" following the purchase of Essential Publishing, with Full House editor Carl Styants believed to be among those facing the axe.

Sources told Press Gazette that senior staff were called into new MD Luke Patten’s office in turn last week, with some being sent on gardening leave, although chief executive Alan Urry would not confirm this.

Germany-based Burda, which publishes Full House and Living & Gardens in the UK, bought Essential Publishing last week, taking on its MD, Patten, as MD of the new company.

Essential publishes women’s fortnightly Real, originally launched by Urry at rival Bauer, and TVHits!

Urry said: "It is far too early to make statements yet about any plans that we might have about the development of the newly formed company.

"We cherish Full House and are going to look after it, but there are sometimes differences. We are restructuring the company and it’s a natural thing that happens."

Burda launched real-life weekly Full House in the UK a year ago as a broadside against its German rival, H Bauer, publisher of Take a Break and That’s Life! in the UK.

The magazine has had a difficult first year, losing veteran publisher Simon Hesling and being delisted by some retailers, but it recorded an ABC figure of more than 200,000 in February.

It is thought that Styants has left, to be replaced by Julie Cook as acting editor, while sources have suggested that staff may eventually be asked to work from Colchester in Essex, where Essential is based.

It is also rumoured that journalists have been told not to pay more than £200 for a true-life story, £300 less than the going rate.

One staff member said: "Essential Publishing folks have been brought in to talk to people about how and why their jobs are done in the way they are, asking the questions: Do we need subs? Do we need designers?

"Everyone is very pissed off. No one has been told of any strategy. The aim seems to be to cut costs right down."

The real-life market is suffering generally as a result of the number of launches into the already crowded sector in the past year.

While IPC’s new title, Pick Me Up, is doing well a year after launch, News International’s Love It!, launched in February, has been reported to be selling fewer than 400,000 copies a week, while all the titles are believed to have lost some sales.

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