|Thomas O. Ryder is stepping down as chairman-CEO of Reader's Digest Association.
The moves affect the upper echelon of a company that publishes one of the largest magazines in the world -- Reader’s Digest has a circulation of more than 10 million and is launching a bid for younger readers with Everyday with Rachael Ray.
Nine months of deliberations
The company said the changes come after nine months of deliberations sparked by Mr. Ryder’s wish to give up an operational role after seven years, as he expressed when he signed a contract amendment in 2004.
Mr. Ryder left a senior post at American Express in 1998 to try invigorating Reader’s Digest Association after several years of decline. In his time at the company, it succeeded in reducing costs and improving profits but suffered from the drastic reduction of sweepstakes-generated subscriptions. In 2002, the company paid $760 million for Reiman Publications and its food magazine, Taste of Home.
“After a few difficult years, we are in a much better place,” Mr. Ryder said in the company’s 2005 annual report. “The core business has stabilized and we are now testing and launching more new products and markets than we ever have in the history of the company.”
Separately, the company promoted Thomas D. Gardner, president-Reader’s Digest International, to a newly created post, executive vice president, reporting to Mr. Schrier. Mr. Gardner will retain responsibility for the international business but take on additional responsibilities that the company did not describe.