Reader's Digest Association Adopts 'Recession Plan'

Publisher Will Lay Off 280 of 3,500, Mandate Five Days Unpaid Leave

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NEW YORK ( -- Reader's Digest Association said today it plans to lay off 280 of its 3,500 employees worldwide as part of a plan to navigate the global economic slowdown. U.S. employees who are losing their jobs will be notified this week. The company also plans to suspend its practice of matching contributions to employees' 401(k) plans and order employees to take five unpaid days off.

Mary Berner
Mary Berner
"We have announced a comprehensive 'Recession Plan,' which is our internal road map for dealing with the extraordinary effects of this recession on consumer spending," President-CEO Mary Berner said in a statement following an e-mail to staff. The company hopes most of the measures will be temporary, she said.

Ms. Berner became CEO of Reader's Digest Association nearly two years ago, after private equity's Ripplewood Holdings took the company private in a $2.8 billion deal. She reorganized the company around content areas, revamped the flagship title and slashed its circulation, and poached top talent from around the business.

Most recently, the company started an ambitious media venture with Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of "The Purpose Driven Life."

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