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February 20, 2018

Publishing News

Departures Redesigns Print Magazine
WWD: "Departures is getting a redesign under new editor in chief Jeffries Blackerby, who moved over to succeed Richard Story at the luxury title from what is now Meredith‘s sister travel publication Travel + Leisure in May. 'The strategy was to really clean it up, pare it back a lot. I just feel like the look and feel of a luxury magazine right now--we were not totally in step with that. I wanted to make a calmer experience in print, but still very visual with big images that shine,' Blackerby explained. He was inspired by 'more niche fashion magazines,' especially European ones such as Document Journal and Fantastic Man. The redesign includes more white space, color panels and new section names that clearly reflect the topics... The redesign kicked off with the March/April fashion issue, which will be sent to American Express Platinum and Centurion card members this week. Stories include features on men’s wear, fine jewelry shot atop unexpected everyday items such as cartons of eggs, and a look at the rise of eco-friendly, lab-grown luxury like diamonds and leather. 'Even though we are general interest luxury and our content mix isn’t fundamentally changing, I wanted to make sure we cover women’s fashion like a ‘core’ fashion title would, with a strong point of view of who our woman is,' Blackerby said. 'It can be a pitfall of lifestyle brands to depict what I’d call the ornamental woman, who exists outside the trends and cycles of fashion and whose main function is to help create sort of fantasy goal is to reflect through our shoots, market and trend coverage our audience’s sophisticated understanding of fashion--how she really wants to look, shop and feel.'"

Billboard Mag With BTS Cover Sells Out
Allkpop: On Feb. 15, Billboard announced the release of a limited edition box set featuring South Korean boy band BTS. The box set comes with eight posters and eight covers featuring each BTS member. A single issue also featuring BTS sold out within hours on newsstands and online (about 17K copies).

Q&A: Editor-In-Chief, New York Magazine
In an intro to a Q&A with New York magazine EIC Adam Moss, Samir Husni writes: "Being 'Print Proud Digital Smart' isn’t just a mantra for showcasing a certain way of thinking when it comes to magazines and magazine media today. The phrase [sums up] a vibrantly healthy way of doing business in today’s rapidly changing world of media publishing. New York Magazine and its humble, and hard-working editor, Adam Moss, has a firm grip on this prescription for success. And why wouldn’t they? They have been looking at the web as a way to build business and not steal it from print years before anyone else had even heard of the word paywall, let alone knew what it meant..." Excerpts from Moss: On deciding what content goes in print vs. digital platforms: "Well, you ask yourself where the audience is for an individual story. And the answer is usually obvious. But very often, you publish it in more than one place. Certainly, anything that is in the print magazine is then published on “Vulture” on “The Cut” or “Daily Intelligencer.” And often, something published on "Daily Intelligencer" also runs on "The Cut" because it’s of interest to The Cut reader; it’s of interest to the more politically-obsessed Daily Intelligencer reader. You just have this huge canvas now. And you use it in the most creative way that you can think of to reach the maximum audience that story might get..." On whether there's a 'halo' around print magazine covers: "Probably. The cover is no longer really to sell magazines on newsstand. As newsstands have become so much less important to all of us, the cover has a different function. It is basically the brand statement of what we make. It declares what we think is important or interesting; it declares our voice. Also, it’s an amazing document for the purposes of social media. Social media takes your cover and distributes it all over the place and it becomes an advertisement for the magazine that’s actually more important than it was originally meant to be when it was to stimulate newsstand sales..." On being one of the few magazines that makes more money from digital than print: "We’ve been at it way longer than most, if not all, magazines... It was kind of coincidence that the previous owners of this magazine went into a joint partnership with Cablevision in order to do their website. There was a website called New York Metro, and New York Metro had the magazine on it and it also had listings and that sort of thing. It was ahead of its time in that way, but it had one other thing that was crucially important, which is the reason that Cablevision wanted the partnership because they wanted to promote a fashion show that they had called “Full Frontal Fashion”... the promotional device was to run the runway pictures on the website. This was before any fashion designer had his/her own website. So, we were the only place you could get runway pictures, which meant that we got a lot of traffic from the very beginning..."

Fangoria Horror Magazine Gets Resurrected
THR: Fangoria, "which in the 1980s and 1990s was the premier stop for articles and scoops from the horror movie scene, is being resurrected by Cinestate, the multimedia company behind Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99. Sister publications, the sci-fi mag Starlog and another horror title Gorezone, are also part of the deal.Cinestate, the Texas-based entertainment company run by CEO Dallas Sonnier, has acquired all the assets and trademarks of the Fangoria brand, including the magazine, from The Brooklyn Co. Phil Nobile Jr., previously the editor-at-large at movie website, has been hired as editor-in-chief for the new Fangoria, which will be a collectible quarterly. The first issue will drop this fall in time for Halloween... Cinestate is not just keeping Fangoria print-focused. The plan calls for producing movies and podcasts, as well as publishing horror novels. Cinestate VP Amanda Presmyk will head up production on a slate of Fangoria-presented movies that Sonnier will bring to the table for Cinestate’s new label.Cinestate is in post on a re-imagining of the Puppet Master franchise, as well as Zahler’s next movie, Dragged Across Concrete, for Lionsgate starring Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn.Cinestate published its first novel in January – Zahler’s Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child. The book is being being developed into a feature by Zahler, Cinestate and The Jim Henson Co."

Conde Nast Italia Unveils First Social Media Editorial Project
WWD: "Condé Nast Italia is launching a new editorial project — and it’s entirely social and platform-free. Called LISA — an acronym for love, inspire, share and advise--unveiled [last night] in Milan with a special event... LISA kicks off on Spotify, Instagram and Facebook and will later also include a presence on Snapchat and [Fedele Usai, CEO of Condé Nast Italia], observed that “98% of Generation Z members and Millennials spend a lot of time on social media for information but, surprisingly, more than 78% of Baby Boomers are [also ]engaged on social media. They all find themselves in the same places and using the same language. Gen Z influences the big spenders in terms of language and communications. No 60-year-old wants to feel treated like a 60-year-old'... Usai said that the new group of seven writers, 'cool hunters' and editors tapped to create LISA, ages 23 to 25, will work with collaborators to discuss topics and trends in 'a disciplined way'... Condé Nast Italia has revenues of 20 million euros from the digital channel and 22 million unique users, [per Usai, who says that] LISA is the first social-only editorial project in the luxury segment at a global level..."

Chicago's Luxe Make It Better Redesigns
MediaPost: "Chicago-based magazine Make It Better introduced a redesign in its January/February 2018 issue. 'It feels more like a traditional magazine,' [says] founder Susan B. Noyes... The redesign was inspired by the look and feel of San Francisco Bay-based Marin magazine and Spaces, acquired by Make It Better Media in November. Make It Better previously printed short, readable articles, Noyes said, but the new magazine will now have three longer feature articles in the well. “This was a successful format for Marin and Spaces,” she said. “We looked at the style of those magazines. They felt more elegant and higher-end, more like the target audience that aligned with our demographics'... Make It Better’s readers tend to be affluent, well-educated homeowners and mothers, with an income above $250,000, Noyes said. The new Make It Better is larger, too, with a 9" X 10.75" format... The magazine has 38,000 subscribers in Chicago (no newsstand). Marin and Spaces have similar circulation numbers, Noyes said..."

Young Men Are Most Likely to Block Ads
Axios: Millennials, males, streamers, researchers and heavy downloaders are most likely to use an ad blocker, according to the latest media Dimension study from Kantar Media... The study also shows that consumers don't necessarily hate advertising or think it's irrelevant, they just don't like excessive targeting. Those who block ads (younger males) tend to mimic the general demographics for other new technologies.

Opinion: B&N's Self-Inflicted Struggles
Writing in GoodEreader, Michael Kozlowski points out that "Barnes and Noble fired 1,800 people last week in a bid to save $40M dollars per year. They let go hundreds of cashiers, receiving managers, the people who order and stock magazines, the folks who lead story time and read books to children. They also axed the folks who manage the discount bins and the Nook technical and sales staff. The bookseller also laid off many shipping receivers around the holidays, resulting in bare shelves and a customer exodus to Amazon. In December 2017, usually B&N’s key month, sales dropped 6% and they generated $953M, while online sales fell 4.5%. The average full time employee was making between $22,000 or so per year and minimum wage workers--hourly folks who are usually hit hardest during post-holiday downturns--would be making $15,000 per year. Barnes and Noble is trying to fire its way to profitability, but they are letting go of the people who love books... Many former and current employees lament that B&N used to be a bookseller, where the people there cared about what they did, and now it’s just a Walmart that happens to sell books. One employee said 'B&N is digging its own grave, and sadly this accelerated it'"...


Retail News

Albertsons to Acquire Remainder of Rite Aid
WSJ: Albertsons--owner of about 2,300 supermarkets through Safeway and 19 other chains--plans to buy the portion of Rite Aid not already in the process of being sold to Walgreens Boots Alliance, to form a combined company valued at about $24B, including debt. It would also enable Albertsons to go public, following more than a decade of ownership by PE firm Cerberus Capital Management LP. PG: If the deal is approved by the government, the new company would operate about 4,900 stores and 4,350 pharmacy counters and 320 clinics across 38 states and D.C. The two retailers have less overlap than Rite Aid and Walgreens, reports WSJ. Reuters: Rite Aid has regulatory approval to sell 1,932 stores to Walgreens for $4.38B. PG: The transaction is anticipated to close in 2H 2018. In exchange for every 10 shares of Rite Aid common stock, Rite Aid shareholders will have the right to elect to receive either one share of Albertsons Cos. common stock plus approx. $1.83 in cash, or 1.079 shares of Albertsons Cos. stock. Depending upon the results of cash elections, when the merger closes, shareholders of Rite Aid will own a 28% to 29.6% stake in the combined companies, and current Albertsons Cos. shareholders will own a 70.4% to 72% stake in the combined companies... On completion of the merger and assuming that all Rite Aid shareholders elect to receive shares plus cash, Albertsons Cos. will have approx. 392.9M shares outstanding on a pro forma and fully diluted basis. Following the close of the transaction and the share exchange, Albertsons Cos.’ shares are expected to trade on the NYSE. Current Rite Aid chairman/CEO John Standley will become CEO of the new entity, and current Albertsons Cos. chairman/CEO Bob Miller will be chairman. The new organization is expected to comprise leadership from both companies and be based in Boise, Idaho, and Camp Hill, Pa., where Albertsons and Rite Aid, respectively, are currently based. The proposed deal is the latest reflecting heightened competition for supermarkets--whose always-thin margins have gotten even smaller--and drug stores, both online and through Amazon's incursion into the food sector through acquiring Whole Foods and offering fast delivery services. PG article summarizes the benefits of the merger as expressed by the two companies, including: "The new company will have an expanded footprint and be ranked first or second in 66 percent of the top metropolitan areas in the United States, and first or second in 70 percent of pharmacy locations."

Winn-Dixie, Tops Reportedly Prepping for Bankruptcy
Bloomberg: Bi-Lo LLC, owner of the Winn-Dixie chain, is preparing for a bankruptcy filing as soon as March, and the owner of Tops Friendly Markets could potentially seek court protection from creditors as soon as this month, according to sources knowledgeable about the two scenarios. "Bi-Lo is planning to shut almost 200 stores--either before or after its filing--one person said. The business, which has more than $1B in debt following its 2005 buyout by Lone Star Funds, went bankrupt in previous incarnations in 2005 and 2009, though it may still find a way to restructure its debt out of court. "Morgan Stanley Private Equity bought Tops from Dutch retailer Koninklijke Ahold NV in 2007 for $310 million. Tops expanded quickly under its new owner, from 71 outlets in 2007 to more than 150 by 2013 [170 now], and operating results initially improved. But same-store sales began to stall, and debt was used to help finance at least $375M in dividends for its PE owners. Management bought out Morgan Stanley in 2013 through another leveraged transaction." Food stamp subsidy cutbacks have contributed to Tops' problems.

Will Tax Changes Drive Retail Sales Increases?
WSJ: "Rising inequality is a decadeslong problem... [and the new tax legislation won't solve that]... Estimates from both the Tax Policy Center, which is run by a former Obama administration official, and the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation show that households in the top fifth by income will receive larger percentage increases in after-tax income this year as a result of tax cuts than households in the middle fifth. Similarly, while economists agree that some of the benefit from lower corporate taxes will accrue to workers, most think that the bigger benefit will be to investors." Still, "extra money in the pockets of lower-income consumers, in particular, could alter the retail landscape. Stores such as Dollar General could get less of their business as shoppers make more big shopping trips to stores like Walmart." Middle-class consumers will also likely spend more, "but that doesn’t mean they will spend it indiscriminately. Companies seen as offering good value on the dollar--Walmart, and Costco--will get much of their business..." Department stores aren't likely to benefit.

Walmart Hires 194K Military Vets
PG: "Walmart has hired more than 194,000 veterans and promoted more than 28,000 to positions of greater responsibility since making its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment in May 2013. The commitment guarantees a job offer to any eligible honorably discharged U.S. veteran who has separated from active duty since Memorial Day 2013. According to the Bentonville, Ark.-based mega-retailer is now more than three-quarters of the way to attaining its goal of hiring 250,000 veterans by 2020..."

Grocers Embrace Blockchain in New Era of Transparency
PG: "Two years ago, no one in the food industry was talking about blockchain, unless they were having a discussion about Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. But thanks to a 2016 proof-of-concept project with Armonk, N.Y.-based technology powerhouse IBM and the world’s largest retailer--Walmart--blockchain is bringing new worlds of possibility to the concepts of data sharing and transparency. IBM’s initial work with Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart involved tracing shipments of pork in China, and fresh mango in the U.S. Building on the success of those tests, the technology continues to gain steam in the industry, as IBM is now collaborating with Walmart and two additional retailers--the Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. and Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets – as well as Temple, Texas-based supply chain services provider McLane Co. and a consortium of leading suppliers such as Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, McCormick and Co., Nestle, Tyson Foods, and Unilever. Its master plan is to accelerate and bring to scale its enterprise-ready, blockchain traceability solution, called IBM Food Trust..."


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