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Condé Nast France Taps Pommery Exec

PARIS — Condé Nast France tapped into the world of champagne to find its new president and director general, naming Didier Suberbielle from Pommery to succeed Gardner Bellanger, who exited last April. Suberbielle, 40, starts Sept....

PARIS — Condé Nast France tapped into the world of champagne to find its new president and director general, naming Didier Suberbielle from Pommery to succeed Gardner Bellanger, who exited last April. Suberbielle, 40, starts Sept. 2.

“He has the capacity to bring Condé Nast France to a new level,” said Jonathan Newhouse, chairman of Condé Nast International, who announced the news to employees here Monday. Asked how expertise in champagne would translate to magazine publishing, he replied: “Knowledge and experience in marketing and leadership ability in one field can serve very well in another.”

Newhouse added that François Dieulesaint, who had acted as interim president, would remain finance director and deputy director general of the company.

Suberbielle, a seven-year veteran at luxury giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, was named president and chief executive officer of its Pommery unit in September 2000. Last April, LVMH sold the Pommery brand to the Vranken Monopole group.

Also at LVMH, Suberbielle was an international marketing vice president and commercial vice president at Moët & Chandon. Before that, the Toulouse native had a nine-year career at Procter & Gamble, working in a variety of marketing and sales positions in France and Spain.

Suberbielle arrives at Condé Nast France at a difficult time for fashion magazines, but Newhouse painted a bright future for the division.

“One of the missions given to Didier is to develop the company. We will be looking to start new magazines and begin new projects,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Condé Nast France, which had revenues of about $40.7 million last year, publishes French Vogue, AD (the French edition of Architectural Digest), and Vogue Hommes International, a biannual men’s magazine. It also does contract publishing, including Air France Madame magazine, and operates an Internet division whose main property is Vogue.com.

Ad pages at French Vogue, published 10 times a year, are down slightly to 812 through the September issue, versus 819 a year ago. Newhouse said he projects a “moderate” increase in ad pages for the full year. He also noted that newsstand sales are up about 7 percent in the first half to roughly 40,000 copies per issue. Last year, French Vogue’s total paid circulation inched up slightly to 108,000.

This story first appeared in the July 23, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“French Vogue is holding up well in a difficult economic climate,” he said. Overall, he expects all of Condé Nast France’s magazines to be up in ad pages for the year. Through the September issue, ad pages at AD leaped 46 percent to 203, up from 139 a year ago.

Bellanger’s exit from Condé Nast France after 36 years with the publishing group stunned the French fashion and magazine world and came amidst a dramatic and trendy new editorial direction at French Vogue spearheaded by editor in chief Carine Roitfeld, previously a freelance stylist.