Almost two years to the day after being launched, Vanity Fair Germany is closing. The current issue of the weekly title, which hits the newsstands today, is to be the last. “Only eleven weeks ago, I publicly vowed that Condé Nast would continue to publish Vanity Fair in spite of difficulties,” said Jonathan Newhouse, chairman of Condé Nast International. “But the world is changing rapidly and in ways for which no one can be truly prepared. The global economy has been plunged into a crisis of historic proportions. Media owners, such as the U.S.-based parent organization of Condé Nast Germany, today face very serious business challenges — difficulties which could not have been foreseen even a short time ago. In a normal economic climate, we would have bravely carried on publishing Vanity Fair. In today’s bleak economic climate, it is impossible.”
Vanity Fair Germany fell victim to the pressures facing many weekly magazines in Europe’s largest economy and were specific to that title. Condé Nast International continues to roll out titles in Europe — including the launch of Vanity Fair Spain last fall and Wired in Italy this week. Meanwhile, Vanity Fair Italy is one of the company’s most successful magazines, with over 6,000 ad pages in 2008.
But Vanity Fair Germany faced challenges of its own, with frequent staff changes, including its first editor in chief, Ulf Poschardt, who threw in the towel after less than a year. Last month, it was announced his successor, Nikolaus Albrecht, was leaving the German edition to return to New York as its American correspondent. Circulation, including subscriptions, was estimated at 114,000 copies, less than other weekly competitors such as Bunte, Gala and Stern.
Industry observers place Vanity Fair’s start-up costs at 100,000,000 euros, or about $125,000,000. The high-end glossy, however, is not the only title to fall a victim to the current crisis. Competitor Gruner + Jahr shuttered Park Avenue in November 2008, noting advertising revenues had fallen short of expectations, and Burda announced the closures of two magazines, Young and Tomorrow.