Conde Nast Media Group Preps for Layoffs

Corporate Sales Group Under Richard Beckman Numbers 135 Staffers

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NEW YORK ( -- Conde Nast is planning cuts as soon as this week to Richard Beckman's Conde Nast Media Group, which handles more than 80% of the company's revenue.

Richard Beckman
Richard Beckman
The group and Mr. Beckman, who has been its president since it was formed in 2004, take the lead on big corporate marketing programs and contracts with advertisers that buy across three or more Conde titles. The staff numbers about 135 people in departments including creative services, production, marketing and sales. Sales is seen as the safest department at the moment. Conde Nast magazines collected nearly $3.2 billion in ad revenue last year, according to Publishers Information Bureau figures based on openly quoted rates, of which 80% comprises $2.5 billion.

The Media Group has less work on its hand this year in the absence of Fashion Rocks, its biggest program, which is on hiatus for 2009. Mr. Beckman's role atop the Media Group was also recently questioned when Conde considered him to take over Parade Publications, a sibling within Conde parent Advance Publications.

"We are continuing to manage our business in the challenging times," a spokeswoman said, declining to elaborate.

Conde Nast, which publishes prominent magazines including Vogue and Glamour, has dealt with the same business pressures afflicting every magazine publisher these days. It made 5% cuts last fall. It shut down Domino magazine in January despite a rather enthusiastic base of readers, scaled back Men's Vogue to a twice-a-year supplement in October, cut Portfolio's frequency and staff that same month, and closed Golf for Women last July. (Plenty of other companies have made similar staff cuts and closed magazines.

Conde Nast CEO Charles Townsend warned staffers in a memo almost two weeks ago that more cuts were coming. "Unavoidably, as the downturn extends, we have to make additional difficult decisions to manage costs and ensure our financial well-being," he wrote. "These decisions involve all of us."

Ad pages are down all over the business, but no less at Conde. First-quarter ad pages fell 34.4% at Allure, 46.9% at Architectural Digest, 25.7% at Bon Appetit, 33.4% at Conde Nast Traveler, 60% at Conde Nast Portfolio (with one fewer issue than in the first quarter of 2008), 14.2% at Cookie, 32% at Details, 22.3% at Glamour, 26.5% at Golf Digest, 32.6% at GQ, 41.6% at Gourmet, 33.5% at Lucky, 17.5% at Self, 41.4% at Teen Vogue, 32.4% at Vanity Fair, 28.5% at Vogue, 40.3% at W and 56.8% at Wired, according to statistics gathered by Media Industry Newsletter. The New Yorker's ad pages this year through the weekly's March 16 issue fell 31.1%. Conde's Golf World, on the other hand, has posted a 9.8% ad-page increase this year through its March 16 issue.

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