Multiple Companies Still Competing for Time Inc.
NY Post: "Still no word on who will nail down Time Inc.--although Meredith, which issued surprisingly strong guidance on its earnings last week, still appears to be the lead candidate, sources say. But it has not yet come down to final negotiations with a single buyer and the Time board, led by executive chairman Joe Ripp and CEO Rich Battista, suggesting there are still sticking points and a few hurdles. 'It’s a competitive process with multiple suitors,' said a source close to the situation. The bidding process is still being described as 'fluid.' Recent speculation has centered that a possible bid could approach $21 a share, which would place the deal at just over $2B. There is also $1.2B in debt on the books."
Time Inc. Rebrands StyleWatch as PeopleStyle
WWD: "Time Inc. is clarifying its mass fashion titles, StyleWatch and People’s style vertical under the PeopleStyle brand. The combination of the two properties clarifies what many in the market deemed confusing, as both entities serve a similar reader and have similar names. Time Inc. told WWD that StyleWatch editor in chief Bethany Heitman and People beauty and style director Andrea Lavinthal will lead PeopleStyle. Both editors will report to People editor in chief Jess Cagle, who also serves as editorial director of the style & entertainment group at Time Inc. (Before, StyleWatch had fallen under the purview of InStyle.) As part of the combination, StyleWatch will reduce its frequency from 11 times a year to eight, and focus on shopping-driven seasons such as back-to-school, as well as celebrity-driven events such as the Emmys. Re-branding the titles also allows the magazine’s print staff to work closely with the digital and weekly print team from People. Consumers of StyleWatch will notice the change in September when the magazine is relaunched as PeopleStyle. In the meantime, Lavinthal and Heitman are in the process of collaborating on their vision for the unified brand. This includes sharing editorial calendars and some staffers. There’s been no word on how the changes will shakeout when it comes to the masthead..."
Forbes May Sell Major Stake to Another Chinese Company
NY Post: "Forbes Media, which only ironed out the legal differences between the Forbes family and its new Asian owners late last year, is now said to be on the brink of selling a majority stake to another Chinese company. Conglomerate HNA Group is circling the magazine publisher with an eye toward buying a controlling stake, according to a report. The company now is 95-percent owned by Hong Kong-based Integrated Whale Media, with Chairman Steve Forbes and siblings owning the remaining slice of the family business founded by B.C. Forbes in 1917... The proposed HNA offer for Forbes Media is said to be worth around $400M, according to Reuters, which first reported on HNA’s interest. Forbes Media, Integrated Whale Media and HNA declined comment.
Hearst, Conde PubWorX Acquires ProCirc
MIN: Hearst Magazines and Condé Nast joint venture PubWorX has acquired ProCirc, a Florida-based publishing services outsource company with more than 50 publishing clients comprising 250+ titles. The deal also adds more than 18 million readers to its service base. Terms were not disclosed. ProCirc’s clients include a list of notable magazine publishers, including Bonnier, Rodale, Outside magazine and New York Media... “Both PubWorX and ProCirc have strong industry and supply-base relationships, and together, we can provide even more personalized service to a broader range of clients, amplifying our ability to quickly deliver bottom line results for their businesses," said PubWorX CEO Al Perruzza. According to Hearst and Condé, PubCirc will continue to operate independently as a division of PubWorX. President and cofounder Cary Zel and CEO Marc Passarelli will remain in their roles at the company. A company spokesperson tells MIN that sales teams will be integrated to increase productivity, and PubWorx will continue to look for opportunities for interdivisional synergies down the road. PubWorX launched in February 2016 with the purpose of providing a range of services to small and large publishers in procurement, production, marketing, and circulation management, at scale. Essentially, it’s a one-stop shop that allows publishers to streamline resources and allow them to focus on content creation and audience and business development. It is also billed as saving publishers money by allowing them to work with fewer vendors [and ramping up economies of scale]... This deal further consolidates a shrinking marketplace of publishing services. Magazine media once had a vast network of service providers, [including] printers and fulfillment houses]... Now, fewer players are left at the negotiation table, and those remaining may find it difficult to compete with large entities like PubWorX that can offer more robust, affordable solutions." Neither the PubWorx release nor articles so far covering it have addressed how many non-Hearst/Condé clients PubWorX had prior to the ProCirc acquisition.
Playboy Makes Editorial Appointments
MIN: Playboy Enterprises has named James Rickman executive editor at Playboy; Leila Brillson executive editor of Playboy.com; and Chris Deacon has been named creative director, Playboy Enterprises. Rickman joins Playboy from Paper, where he served as managing editor. He’s been with Playboy since 2015, overseeing entertainment content in print and online, as well as the Playboy Interview. Brillson most recently held Snapchat consultancy positions at Hearst. She was also VP of digital at Nylon and entertainment director at Refinery 29. Chris Deacon has been art director at brands such as Time Out New York, Shortlist, Metropolitan, NME, Total Film, Loaded and InStyle. He joined Playboy in 2015 and most recently served as art director."
Time Inc.'s Viant Extends Acxiom Partnership
MediaPost: Acxiom and Time Inc.’s Viant has extended its relationship wit Acxiom to offer marketers and agencies improvements in cross-channel audience targeting, scale and measurement. "Acxiom will use its data to target customers across the Viant Advertising Cloud platform. By combining Viant’s first-party registered consumer base and Advertising Cloud platform with Acxiom’s consumer insights, the partnership aims to allow advertisers to access omnichannel data. 'The Acxiom partnership further extends Viant’s commitment to enabling brands' people-based strategies by providing seamless activation of customer data across all media channels and devices while enabling true measurement of advertising impact, both online and in-store,' [said] Jon Schulz, CMO, Viant"...
Penguin Random House Sales, Earnings Down in 2016
PW: "Lack of a new major bestseller was one factor in driving sales and earnings lower last year compared to 2015, at Penguin Random House. According to PRH parent company Bertelsmann, revenue at the world’s largest trade publisher fell 9.6% in 2016, to 3.4 billion euros, while EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) declined 3.6%, to 537 million euros. Figures include results from Verlagsgruppe Random House, the German publishing group wholly owned by Bertelsmann. The lack of a breakout smash contributed to declines in both print and e-book sales but sales of digital audiobooks remained strong, Bertlesmann said. In addition, revenue was negatively affected by currency changes and asset sales. In the U.S., PRH sold Author Solutions (closing the deal just before the start of the new year, on December 30, 2015). Last year, PRH also sold Fodor's and Random House Studios. Highlighting the hit books PRH had in the U.S., Bertelsmann pointed to multimillion sales of The Girl on the Train, Me Before You, and After You. Other top sellers across print, audio and digital formats included The Whistler, The Underground Railroad and When Breath Becomes Air. Additionally, multi-title Dr. Seuss classics sold more than 11M copies. In his letter to employees, PRH CEO Markus Dohle said that despite having “a year that felt challenging for all of us,' PRH raised its operating margin to 16% (from 15% in 2015). A key to maintaining strong profitability levels, Dohle added, has been PRH’s commitment to 'preserving a vital and vibrant bookselling community,' as well as 'maximizing efficiencies in our cutting-edge supply chain.' Dohle also emphasized PRH’s commitment to print, saying the house supported the format 'even when it was in decline earlier this decade.' Dohle said the new year has gotten off to a good start 'in most of our territories' and that a top priority remains improving the discoverability of PRH books, both in physical stores and online. PRH also plans to help maintain a 'competitive bookselling landscape,' and accelerate its diversity efforts “in the content we publish and promote, and of course under our own roof'"...
House Repeals Broadband Privacy Rules
MediaPost: " The House of Representatives today voted 215-205 to repeal sweeping broadband privacy rules that were passed last year. Last week, the Senate passed a similar measure by a vote of 50-48. The bill now heads to President Donald Trump for signature. The measure overturns the rules under the Congressional Review Act -- a 1996 law that allows federal lawmakers to vacate recent agency decisions. When Congress uses that vehicle to scrap rules, the agency that issued them is prohibited from crafting replacement regulations. The House's Tuesday evening vote came several hours after the White House officially endorsed a repeal." The broadband privacy rules, passed by the FCC 3-2 last October, impose new requirements on Internet service providers, including requiring carriers to obtain opt-in consent before drawing on data about subscribers' Web-browsing history and app usage for ad targeting.
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OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:
Colleen Wegman Named Wegmans' CEO
SN: "Danny Wegman, CEO of Wegmans Foods Markets, on Wednesday said he has appointed his daughter Colleen to succeed him at the helm of the family-run retailer. “I will continue in my role, but now as chairman of the company,” Danny Wegman (left) said in a short statement issued by the Rochester, N.Y.-based company. “The time has come to create a structure for the future that will allow us to remain strong, vibrant and family-owned. I have no doubt that our company will be in good hands.” Colleen Wegman joined Wegmans in 1991 and was named president in 2005 by the late Robert B. Wegman, her grandfather. She previously served as a store manager, a SVP of merchandising, directed e-commerce and helped to develop Wegmans' natural/organic department. Danny Wegman has served as CEO since 2005, succeeding his father, Robert..."
Amazon Acquires Middle Eastern E-Commerce Site Souq.com
PW: "At the end of February, Dubai online retailer Souq.com
launched what it called a new “global bookstore,” with plans to offer six million titles for sale. At the time, Ronaldo Mouchawar, CEO of Souq.com, said “We are aligned with the UAE’s National Reading initiative and this category expansion comes at an interesting time when we are witnessing new momentum in the culture of reading across the region.” Yesterday, March 28, Amazon announced it was buying the company, though it appears that no books are yet available for sale on the site. Souq is considered the dominant online retailer in the Gulf and Middle East, an area that has been notoriously difficult to service, in part because of difficulties in distribution and processing of payments. Like Amazon, it sells a full range of products, from cell phones to beauty supplies. It attracts some 45 million visitors annually and has local operations in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt..."
Wal-Mart Promotes Three in Tech Group
PG: Wal-Mart has promoted three within its U.S. technology and global platforms organization, according to CTO Jeremy King. Fiona Tan is now SVP, leading the U.S. customer technology organization, continuing to report directly to King. Earlier, she led the Sam’s Club and international ecommerce technology teams, guiding strategy, planning and operations for @WalmartLabs. In her new, expanded role, Tan will 'bring a whole new level of focus to the customer journey-- both in stores and online,' said King. Jaya Kolhatkar is now SVP leading the global data and analytics platform organization, and will also continue to report directly to King. Starting in January, she has also taken on responsibility for the company's in-store data... Jae Evans is now VP leading the global technical engineering and operations organization, reporting to SVP of global infrastructure and operations Paul Antony. Evans will continue to oversee the core infrastructure services and customer reliability operations of W-M's worldwide ecommerce sites, in addition to taking on responsbility for infrastructure engineering across stores, DCs, clubs and the home office.
Ahold Delhaize Combining Strengths to Focus on Personalization
PG: "Since Royal Ahold and Delhaize Group merged in July 2016, the new Ahold Delhaize has been working on using the strengths of its various banners and brands to best appeal to the 100M, increasingly diverse, U.S. shoppers it serves. 'Everybody has a patchwork of capabilities,' Ahold USA senior vice president of marketing Amy Hahn said on Tuesday during a keynote session at the Shopper Marketing Summit in New York. "It’s a really exciting time and a great opportunity for the company to bring all these brands together to get those capabilities embedded in all the brands we’ve got.' That unity is necessary to help the retailer deal with major challenges, such as changes in demographics. 'We’re seeing big shifts in ethnic, generational and income makeup in our customers in the U.S.,' Hahn said. 'We’re becoming more and more diverse.' The retailer has launched a variety of tactics to appeal to shoppers looking for value and the excitement of trying new things. For example, the Ahold USA chains began running a weekly 'Free-day!' promotion last year, offering a digital coupon for a free SKU that can only be downloaded that day. Two years ago Ahold USA launched Savory, a magazine distributed in stores and online that delivers recipes that are matched with coupons to make shopping for the recipes affordable. The publication has also provided another opportunity for CPG involvement, since brands can sponsor recipes..."
Three Grocers Make People's '50 Companies That Care' List
PG: "Wegmans Food Markets, Publix Super Markets and Nugget Markets are ranked among People magazine’s inaugural 50 Companies That Care, which the entertainment publication compiled in partnership with Great Place to Work. The grocers came in sixth, ninth and 32nd, respectively, for their efforts to better the lives of their surrounding communities and their associates. Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans was recognized for the 15 “Project Search” job candidates it trains annually, coaching them in developing skills and work habits, and its hunger relief efforts. Publix, based in Lakeland, Fla., was honored for its “Publix Serves Day” devoted to volunteerism at various local nonprofits, and its donations to food banks. Woodland, Calif.-based Nugget received mention for its emphasis on “excitement, teamwork, fun and rewards,” including the company tradition of taking all associates whitewater rafting in multiple events, and its policy of giving part-time employees 100% paid medical insurance, a 4 percent 401K match and profit sharing, a long-term disability insurance policy and company-paid life insurance..."
Liebmann: Rethinking Retail for a New Shopper
PG: Speaking at the Shopper Marketing Summit in New York, WSL Strategic Retail CEO Wendy Liebmann stressed the dramatic changes in American shoppers. "Although there are now more places to buy than ever before, brands have fewer places to sell, with the average number of channels that shoppers use dropping for the first time in years. '[The shopper] is starting to pull back because they’re making different choices,' she said, characterizing the modern shopper as a 'shopping goddess' who makes faster trips in stores and more frequent ones outside traditional channels, opting instead for models such as subscription services and click-and-collect... Shoppers today are also less loyal to brands and disillusioned by the lack of perceived differentiation in categories, feeling that most retailers are mediocre at best. Touting 'new and improved' products and offering basic price promotions will no longer win over shoppers, who care less about 'stuff' and more about achieving happiness. “If we’re in the stuff business, we need to build that proposition around the value she’s looking for,' Liebmann said. She said that shoppers are more willing to pay for experiences and products that reduce stress in their lives healthy products that improve their well-being; and the opportunity to make discoveries in stores and receive a customized experience..."
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE: