TIME TO REORGANIZE: In the wake of its spin-off from parent company Time Warner in the second quarter, Time Inc. revealed details of its restructuring, which will include an undisclosed number of layoffs. “Today, we are beginning a restructuring process that will move us in the right direction by: eliminating our three brand operating clusters; streamlining decision-making across the entire organization; and completing the integration of American Express Publishing,” Time Inc. chief executive officer Joe Ripp said via an internal memo sent to staff Tuesday.
Media reports have speculated job cuts in the neighborhood of 500, but a source with knowledge of the situation said layoffs would be “significantly lower” than that figure.
This story first appeared in the February 5, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Still, Ripp’s memo did point to former Amex titles as a locus for the majority of the cuts. In the fall, Time Inc. acquired a slate of Amex publications, including Departures, Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure. The company said it would not only eliminate job “redundancies” there, but it would also consolidate Time Inc. into a single portfolio under two executives: Evelyn Webster, executive vice president and group president of the lifestyle group, and Todd Larsen, executive vice president and group president of the news and sports group.
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“Since we have an extensive collection of brands, Evelyn and Todd will each supervise a number of them while collaborating across the business,” Ripp said. “Evelyn will manage All You, Black Ink, Cooking Light, Coastal Living, Departures, Essence, Food & Wine, Health, InStyle, People StyleWatch, People en Español, Real Simple, Southern Living, Sunset, This Old House, Travel + Leisure and IPC. Todd will manage People, Entertainment Weekly, Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, CNNMoney, Money, Golf, SI for Kids, Time for Kids and GEx in Mexico.”
As a result, David Geithner, executive vice president and group president of the style and entertainment group, which oversees marquee titles People and InStyle, was let go after a 21-year run at the company. Ed Kelly, ceo of American Express Publishing, was also laid off after 25 years at Amex. In his own memo to employees, Kelly expressed his gratitude to his colleagues and said “today’s news marks a new chapter for American Express Publishing as the brands more fully integrate into Time Inc.”
In an e-mail to staff, Webster said it would shutter Amex’s Executive Travel magazine, and shared that the majority of Amex employees would move into the Time & Life Building in Midtown Manhattan from the Hippodrome Building near Bryant Park.
While insiders nervously await the axe to fall, the full picture of the layoffs is likely to come into focus rather quickly, as noted by Ripp, who offered: “We can continue the recent pattern of annual layoffs for years to come or we can get ahead of and then reverse this trend by developing the investment capital and the ideas to restore our business.”
On Thursday, the ceo will meet with senior leadership to discuss “priorities” for the next several months, and he will conduct “town hall meetings” with current employees.
On a slightly brighter note, the company said it promoted Mark Ford to executive vice president of advertising sales, where he will report to Ripp and oversee Time Inc.’s branded solutions division.