Condé Nast puts three Fairchild titles on the block

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Several months after Condé Nast Publications put all its Fairchild titles under the Condé Nast umbrella, the company is putting three of the magazines in play.

The company confirmed last week that Home Furnishings News, InFurniture and Supermarket News are on the auction block. The company acquired the titles when S.I. Newhouse, chairman-CEO of Condé Nast parent company Advance Publications, bought Fairchild Publications from Walt Disney Co. in 1999 for a reported $650 million.

Supermarket News (32,000 circ.) is a weekly that covers the food distribution industry. Home Furnishings News (20,000 circ.), also a weekly, focuses on products and retail trends in the home furnishings industry. InFurniture (20,000 circ.) is a monthly that tracks retail trends in the furniture industry.

“While each of these properties plays a leading role in the markets they serve, they reflect areas of business that are not key to our core mission,” said Mitch Fox, group president of Fairchild consumer and business titles, in an internal memo. Andrea Kaplan, a spokeswoman for Condé Nast Publications, had no comment when asked to elaborate on Fox’s statement.

About 70 editorial and sales staff will be affected by the sale, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Condé Nast is keeping Fairchild flagship Womens' Wear Daily as well as DNR and Footwear News.

Earlier this year, Fairchild CEO Mary Berner abruptly resigned from her post after the magazine group was realigned under the Condé Nast umbrella. Following Berner's departure, Fox, who oversees the company's Golf Digest publications, added the Fairchild consumer and b-to-b titles to his portfolio.

The company declined to say whether it has received any offers for the three magazines. However, the “buzz is that it will either be Lebhar-Friedman or Reed Business Information, and people seem to think it’s going to happen quickly, certainly before the year ends,” said a Condé Nast employee who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The source said the “writing was on the wall” about a potential sale of the three titles as they were integrated into Condé Nast in February.

“As soon as that happened, we knew they were setting up the titles for a sale because they immediately separated the titles into a ‘Fairchild Business Publications’ division,” the source said. “Supermarket News is a classic trade magazine, and none of the titles fits within Condé’s mission, which is largely serving the upscale markets.”

An industry insider amplified those comments, saying “They have contemplated this sale for a long time, but they’re not going to be selling any other titles. These are healthy titles, and Condé wants the employees to be taken care of.”

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