NEW YORK -- Elle didn't take long to find a new group publishing director in the hope of returning to the growth path.
Monday, as expected, it appointed former consultant Carol A. Smith as senior vice president, group publishing director, succeeding Carl Portale, who announced his early retirement last week. Smith was mentioned as a possible successor in WWD last Thursday. Since 1999, Smith has worked as a consultant on a variety of publishing and Internet projects, including beautyjungle.com, babystyle.com and as acting general manager of elle.com.
"My first order of business will be to clearly define the Elle brand globally," Smith said Monday. "What amazed me when I got to elle.com is how powerful the brand is in 34 countries. My goal is a clear one, to make it better, make it stronger and make it more profitable."
Asked how she hopes to improve the magazine's market share, which last year slipped into fourth place behind Vogue, In Style, and W, respectively, Smith replied, "The health of the magazine has to be measured beyond share of market. I don't believe it's slipped or lost its way. I believe the landscape has changed and Elle has to be positioned for the new landscape."
Prior to becoming a consultant, Smith was the founding publisher of Parenting magazine, which she launched in 1987 with Robin Wolaner in a joint venture with Time Inc. Smith later became president and chief executive officer of the Parenting Group at Time Inc. [which later acquired all of Parenting], where she built a company comprised of several magazines, including Parenting, Baby Talk and Healthy Pregnancy; a custom publishing division; a book series; branded merchandise, and a web presence. During her tenure as head of The Parenting Group, she was also the founding publisher of Vibe and a member of the team that launched Martha Stewart Living.
Smith hopes to apply to Elle some of the tactics she developed at Parenting. She acknowledged that Elle faces increased competition from Vogue, In Style, W and Harper's Bazaar. "They're all fighting for a pie that's not growing. I built Parenting across platforms and we surrounded the mother and sold her everything you could. I believe we could do the same thing with the Elle woman and give her many ways to get information."
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