NEW YORK – Mary Berner resigned on Wednesday as group president of the Condé Nast Publications division that includes WWD, W, Jane, Details and other magazines.
Many of her duties will be assumed by Mitchell B. Fox, another group president. Berner will remain with the company until the end of January.
Berner’s departure follows a difficult transition period in which she tried to carve out a new role for herself within the recently reorganized company. For six years, Berner had been president and chief executive officer of the freestanding subsidiary, Fairchild Publications, when it was part of Advance Publications Inc. During a corporate restructuring last fall, Fairchild became a division of Condé Nast Publications and Berner went from running Fairchild to being, essentially, a group publisher within the new parent, losing her ceo title in the process.
“Realistically, Mary is a top executive in the media industry,” said Condé Nast Publications president and ceo Charles H. Townsend, to whom Berner began reporting in late September. She previously reported directly to S.I. Newhouse Jr.
“She is very much used to running her own thing with bottom-line experience,” added Townsend. “As we have consolidated into a single, more efficient entity, there was a growing level of dissatisfaction that she and I discussed very openly. Not with any animosity, just honesty.”
Berner said, “I had an incredible experience running Fairchild. I realized what I’m best at is running a company.”
Fox, who also lost his ceo title last fall when the Golf Digest Publications became part of Condé Nast Publications, will assume responsibility for the business operations of W, the Condé Nast Bridal Group and the Fairchild business-to-business publications – now called the Fashion & Retail Trade Groups – which include WWD. The publishers of Jane, Details and Cookie will report directly to Townsend.
Berner was vice president and publisher of Glamour before she joined Fairchild in 1999, and prior to that, she was publisher of TV Guide. She began her career in magazines at Working Woman.
Berner’s management style at Fairchild included a colorful vocabulary and a penchant for employee initiatives. During her tenure, Fairchild revived Details, launched Cookie, consolidated the Bridal Group and expanded WWD through numerous spin-offs, including WWD the Magazine, WWDScoop and WWD Accessories. In 2004, Advertising Age named Berner “Publishing Executive of the Year.”
Colleagues said they expected to see her running another company, though perhaps not a publishing one, “very soon.”