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June 20, 2019

Publishing News

Conde's CEO Talks Advertising and Brand Safety
CNBC video (5 mins): In an interview, Condé Nast's new CEO, Roger Lynch, notes that over half of Condé's revenue is from video and other non-print channels. He says that video and Asian markets are the company's biggest growth opportunities; and that its exclusive content and famous brands give it an advantage in competing in video and other digital media. "Our brands are as relevant as they've ever been," he says, adding that more than a billion people interact with them across the globe.

Ex-Hearst Exec Joanna Coles Launching Platform for Corporate Women
CNBC video (3.5 mins): Joanna Coles, Snap board member and former chief content officer at Hearst Magazines, discusses her new media venture, Boudica, which aims to address the gender leadership gap in the corporate world. The content--video plus text and audio, will launch late this year and be paid sub-based. No advertising initially.

Angelina Jolie Joins Time Magazine as Contributing Editor
WWD: "The Oscar-winning actress, director and activist has joined Time Magazine as a contributing editor, writing monthly stories on “displacement, conflict and human rights,” according to an announcement by Time CEO/editor in chief Edward Felsenthal. Jolie’s stories will be published across the magazine’s global platforms. Wednesday, Jolie published her first piece in her new role, titled “What We Owe Refugees,” which coincided with World Refugee Day. In her article, Jolie discusses the severity of the global refugee crisis and how many nations aren’t giving the issue the attention it warrants... Jolie has devoted much of her life to working with refugees. For the last 18 years, she has worked with the United Nations Refugee Agency and is the special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She has carried out over 60 field missions to refugees in nations like Colombia, Peru and Bangladesh. She joins Time after writing an essay for the magazine in April, titled “Why Women Are the Key to Lasting Peace in Afghanistan.” Her most recent article will also be featured in the July 1 print issue. A new group of editors joined the magazine in April. Salesforce founder Marc Benioff purchased Time from Meredith last September, for a reported $190M in cash."

Conde's Sale of W Mag to Surface May Be Faltering
WWD: "A seemingly done deal to sell W magazine stands a chance of falling apart.Although the Condé Nast glossy only a couple of weeks ago was said to be very near being sold to the operators of design-centric Surface magazine, with papers all but signed, the deal could now be materially different or even fall through, sources now tell WWD. The hold up was initially thought to be the sale price, with Surface trying to drive down the purported price tag of between $7M-$8M. But since a WWD report on the deal and the parties involved, the professional history of Surface chief executive officer Marc Lotenberg and his purported financial backer Magna Entertainment are said to have become an issue for some staffers. One such is W’s longtime editor in chief Stefano Tonchi, who initially supported the deal but is said to be no longer interested in going forward with a sale to Surface, which has turned off some of his higher-profile staff as well. Unwilling staffers might be welcome to a buyer under different circumstances, but for W, Tonchi in particular is important to the survival of the brand at its current status. He is the face of the magazine and generally well liked in the fashion community, pulling in ads and high-profile covers and contributors that an outlet like Surface would have a hard time garnering without him. Yes, they could certainly get someone else to do the job, but Surface would be hard pressed to get someone with Tonchi’s clout. It’s entirely possible that Condé executives, said to be somewhat frustrated at how long it’s taken to sell W (Adrian Cheng’s C Ventures was a front-runner before Surface), end up selling the magazine to Surface anyway, without all of the staff on board. Some staffers are also thought to be more ambivalent about the potential sale and willing to stay on. Talks on that front are ongoing, as Surface continues to work on financing, but should most of W’s staff come out against the sale, it would very likely put the sale in real jeopardy. As it stands, W is operating as usual at Condé, already having gotten its yearly budget. Fall issues are thought well into production.A Condé spokesman declined to comment and a representative of Surface could not be reached. Until second thoughts came about, Surface, which is a quarterly print publication but has shifted online to focus on lists, e-commerce and travel (read: traffic drivers), was poised to create a new holding company for W and let it maintain a level of operational independence. But some people have become wary of going into business with Surface and even Magna Entertainment. Some staff worried about cuts and operations post-sale, even if they were to sign on as part of the deal. Surface has gained a less than glowing reputation in media circles in recent years as an operation with very high turnover (there were some cuts two weeks ago and nearly all of its editorial employees left last year with other cycles before that) and a difficult workplace culture purportedly led by Lotenberg"...

Book Comps Fell 3.9% at B&N in Fiscal 2019
PW: "While Barnes & Noble did not hold a conference call to discuss the year-end results that were issued yesterday, the retailer did file its 10-K report with the Securities & Exchange Commission. That report showed the 1.9% decline in comp store sales in fiscal 2019, ended April 29, was led by a 3.9% drop in sales in the book category. Sales in the chain's non-book segments rose 1.9%. Overall, sales at B&N fell 3% in fiscal 2019. Nonetheless, the retailer did post a small profit in the year. The decline in comp store book sales dropped the media group’s share of B&N revenue to 68% of total company sales, down from 69% in fiscal 2018 (the media group includes books). Sales in the other segment, which includes toys and games (where B&N has said sales have improved since the closing of Toys 'R Us), as well as café and gifts, accounted for 30% of sales, up from 28%. Digital sales represented 2% of fiscal 2019 revenue, down from 3%. The retail segment includes results from and the 10-K filing said online sales fell 6.7% ($18.5M), compared to the prior year."

Survey: Journalists Call Twitter Most Influential Social Platform
MediaPost: "Twitter is the most influential social-media platform for journalists worldwide, according to Ogilvy’s sixth annual Global Media Influence Survey.The survey, released at Cannes Lion today, highlights new strategies in digital media and the sentiments of journalists regarding media coverage and brand reputation.The survey included 311 journalists who covered a range of topics, from national news to entertainment.Those surveyed found corporate announcements, such as financial reporting, more important than third-party endorsements, such as social-media influencers, in shaping earned media coverage and driving brand reputation.Twitter is the social-media platform that most often informs reporters’ coverage, according to 48% of the journalists included here. Some 29% cited Facebook or Instagram, and 17% pointed at WhatsApp"...


Retail News

Kroger Reports Mixed Results
SN: "Despite a sales decrease from the sale of its convenience store unit, The Kroger Co. reported earnings in line with Wall Street’s forecast for its fiscal 2019 first quarter.Kroger said Thursday that sales for the quarter ended May 25 totaled $37.25B, down 1.2% from $37.72B a year earlier. The company attributed the dip to the $2.15B sale of its convenience store unit to EG Group in April 2018. The business included 762 stores and generated $4B in sales. Excluding fuel and the effect of selling the convenience store unit, sales were up 2% YoY for Q1, according to Kroger. Kroger noted that its own-brand sales rose 3.3%, with double-digit growth in Simple Truth natural and organic brand. Overall, the company launched 219 new private label items in the quarter. Identical-store sales edged up 1.5% excluding fuel, vs. a 1.9% gain in the prior-year period. Gross margin was 22.2% of sales for the quarter. Kroger said FIFO gross margin excluding fuel declined 40 basis points, mainly due to industrywide lower gross-margin rates in pharmacy. Operating profit decreased 12.4% to $901M from nearly $1.03B a year ago. Adjusted FIFO operating profit totaled $957M, vs. $1.02B in the fiscal 2018 quarter. Q1 reported net income came in at $772M, or 95 cents per diluted share, compared with nearly $2.03B, or $2.37 per diluted share, a year earlier. Adjusted net earnings were $586M, or 72 cents per diluted share, compared with $626M, or 73 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period. Kroger said adjusted earnings exclude the impact from the sale of its convenience store, Turkey Hill and You Technology businesses; pension plan agreements; a mark-to-market gain on Ocado securities; and other items. Analysts, on average, had projected adjusted earnings per share of 72 cents, with estimates ranging from a low of 60 cents to a high of 84 cents, according to Refinitiv/Thomson Reuters.“We are building momentum in the second year of Restock Kroger, which is off to a solid start,” Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said in a statement, referring to the company’s three-year strategic plan. “The entire company is focused on redefining the grocery customer experience, improved upon by exciting partnerships that will create value. We are on track to generate the free cash flow and incremental adjusted FIFO operating profit that we committed to in 2019 as part of Restock Kroger. We are confident in our ability to deliver on our plans for the year and our long-term vision to serve America through food inspiration and uplift.”McMullen added that, as part of Restock Kroger, the company is “assembling a platform to deliver anything, anytime, anywhere.” To that end, Kroger expanded online grocery delivery to 2,126 locations and pickup to 1,685 locations as of the close of the first quarter, covering over 93% of the households in its market area.Also during the first quarter, in Monroe, Ohio, Kroger and online grocery partner Ocado broke ground on the first of 20 automated warehouses they plan to open over the next two years. That facility and another in Groveland, Fla., are slated to become operational in 2021. A third customer fulfillment center (CFC) is planned for the Mid-Atlantic region. The companies plan to replicate the CFC model across the United States to fulfill online orders from customers...Looking ahead, Kroger forecast GAAP earnings per share of $2.38 to $2.48 and adjusted EPS of $2.15 to $2.25 for its 2019 fiscal year. The company projected adjusted identical-store sales growth of 2% to 2.25%... Kroger finished the 2019 first quarter with 2,761 retail food stores overall, compared with 2,779 a year ago."

Kroger's Private Label Products Driving Growth
Reuters: "“We know we can do better when it comes to identical sales results,” [Kroger CEO Rodney] McMullen told analysts after Kroger posted quarterly same-store sales below Wall Street estimates, sending its shares down 2.5%.The grocer’s store-brand business was one of its most powerful tools, McMullen said.Kroger’s own brand sales for the quarter rose 3.3%. Unicorn ice cream, pork belly bites and artesian jerky were among 219 new store brand items that boosted sales by $225M. By churning out new house-brand items, Kroger hopes to tap into broad sales growth for private labels. The push comes as grocers compete fiercely on price and race to expand online ordering and delivery, an area where the biggest U.S. grocery chain has lagged.Kroger added 1,022 “own brand” items in 2018, and each supermarket on average stocks more than 15,000 private-label products such as pet food, clothes, furniture, meal kits and office supplies. Kroger’s 16 house brands account for more than 30% of unit sales, the company said in March"...

Ahold Delhaize USA Launches New Supply Chain Immersion Program
PG: "Ahold Delhaize USA's Retail Business Services division has partnered with Boston-based nonprofit Venture Café to identify early-stage entrepreneurs and help them build next-generation products and services to solve problems in the retail supply chain. The Supply Chain Seed Program will consist of five entrepreneurs or teams — chosen from applications received by July 1 — who receive workshop training, industry mentorship and startup coaching over 10 weeks. Chosen participants will also have the opportunity to tour Retail Business Services' new tech office in Quincy, Mass."...

Amazon Fresh Launches in Vegas
SN: "Amazon has expanded its AmazonFresh perishables same-day delivery service to Las Vegas.The e-tail giant said Thursday that members of its Prime customer benefits program in Las Vegas can now shop tens of thousands of products — ranging from fresh produce, meat and seafood to household staples such as papers towels and soap — for one- and two-hour delivery. Also through AmazonFresh, Prime members can order best-selling items on, including electronics, health care, personal care, home and kitchen, toys and other products.AmazonFresh delivery costs $14.99 per month on top of the $119 annual Prime membership. Users get free delivery for orders of $35 or more (a $9.99 fee is charged for orders less than $35). New customers can get a 30-day free trial of AmazonFresh and receive $10 off their first order of $35 or more using promotional code “Grocery10” at checkout"...

Path to Purchase Institute Taps inMarket for Retailer Profile Data
PG: "Path to Purchase Institute (P2PI) and consumer engagement and insights leader inMarket have partnered to incorporate inMarket’s location-based loyalty and dwell time data into its members-only retailer profiles.P2PI, a sister brand to Progressive Grocer, is a member community that works to elevate the entire consumer goods industry through winning strategies and industry best practices.In partnership with inMarket, P2PI will provide exclusive, location-based retailer insights to its community, offering regularly updated retailer loyalty intelligence that will help its member companies plan their marketing strategies. Specifically, inMarket will be providing reports on loyalty and dwell time for more than 30 major retail chains in the United States, including Walmart, Kroger and Costco. In its first report exclusive to P2PI, inMarket’s data scientists found that Walmart leads the nation in customer loyalty, with an index of 3.46, followed by Texas-based H-E-B (3.08) and Florida-based Publix (3.06). n terms of average dwell time per visit, club stores Costco (41 minutes), BJ’s (38 minutes) and Sam’s Club (37.2 minutes) currently lead the nation, with ShopRite (37 minutes) scoring highest among non-club stores.Path to Purchase Institute members can now view individual retailer snapshots that will be updated each quarter within the Market Position and Strategy Overview sections of retailer profiles on the P2PI site.The inMarket location platform is built on first-party data from direct mobile app SDK integrations, reaching a comScore-verified 50 million active devices. inMarket’s core business is in delivering powerful, placed-based media to this audience, activating shoppers inside the store and throughout the path to purchase. Given its high degree of accuracy and massive scale, inMarket’s first-party data is also relied upon to measure the impact of major industry developments — like product launches, acquisitions or new advertising campaigns — on brick-and-mortar businesses. For example, inMarket reports have examined the effects of Amazon Lockers at Whole Foods and the success of the Impossible Whopper at Burger King"...


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