Condé Nast chief executive officer Bob Sauerberg is rapidly reshaping the company. The latest move under Sauerberg, who was promoted to ceo in September, is the closing of men’s magazine Details — laying off staff including its longtime editor in chief Dan Peres and chief revenue officer and publisher Drew Schutte — and the folding of Self magazine’s business side into Glamour. As a result, Glamour publisher and chief revenue officer Connie Anne Phillips will oversee advertising for Self, as its publisher and chief revenue officer Mary Murcko was let go.
Details had 40 full- and part-time editorial jobs and 27 advertising jobs, a magazine spokeswoman said. Of these, about 55 are being let go with about 12 digital staffers transitioning to GQStyle.
This has been a month of changes at Condé, which also have included a handful of layoffs at GQ, the departure of Teen Vogue publisher and chief revenue officer Jason Wagenheim and a shake-up at Allure that had Linda Wells exiting after 24 years as editor in chief and the naming of her successor, Michelle Lee, of Nylon Media. On the business side, Condé is said to be restructuring in a manner similar to rival Hearst Magazines. At Hearst, publishers are clustered into categories, such as the men’s group or the design group, a measure that not only saves costs, but also allows publishers to provide scale when they pitch advertisers.
At Condé Nast, both Self and Details have long been rumored to be candidates for closure. In the six months ended June 30, Details saw newsstand sales decline 30.1 percent to 27,946 from last year, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. But the men’s glossy bumped up its total paid and verified circulation for the same period by 6.7 percent to 560,212. At Self, total single copy sales slumped 50.6 percent to 74,679 from last year, as total paid and verified circulation dipped 1.3 percent to 1.5 million.
Condé insiders told WWD that even though Details is a smaller magazine, Self had been losing more money. Still, Condé appears to be sticking by Self, and editor in chief Joyce Chang, who was brought in by artistic director Anna Wintour last April after Lucy Danziger was dismissed, following her 13-year stint at the helm.
Instead, Condé is focusing on combining Glamour and Self on the business side, so that it can “unify teams” and “create a leading women’s advertising platform for our clients,” the company said.
Sauerberg, who said the last print issue of Details would be its December/January 2016 issue, noted in an internal memo to staff Wednesday: “We have decided to build on the success and massive overall audience of GQ as our men’s brand, and will be expanding the business through their GQ Style franchise. GQ Style, which has consistently been popular among upscale Millennials and luxury advertisers alike, will significantly expand its digital presence and also increase to a quarterly print schedule.”
Details.com will continue to operate as the company transitions to GQStyle.com. Details, which has long been seen in the industry as a smaller, but in some ways more luxe, men’s magazine, has under Peres grown its Web traffic at a pretty rapid clip over the last year. Sources said the magazine’s site, which had about 1 million unique views in September 2014, grew its traffic to 2.1 million in a year. The brand is expected to close out November with nearly 3 million uniques — the kind of growth that, insiders said, had Condé Nast Digital and human resources asking for pointers.
The strong growth wasn’t enough to save the title’s print staff, but sources with knowledge of the situation said that about 12 Details.com staffers would transition to GQStyle.com to ignite GQ’s site.
Condé insiders said the departures of well-respected editors Peres and Wells have shaken employees, who are still unsure if more cuts are on the way.
It is said that the changes to this point are part of a number of different scenarios that were being mulled by Condé’s top brass as of late. Those scenarios included grouping publishers, as in the case of Teen Vogue, which is now under the purview of Vogue chief revenue officer and publisher Susan Plagemann; closing Self; combining Self and Glamour, or closing Details. The decision was said to be made in the last few days, and sources speculated that Self had an “advocate” in Wintour, who had been unable to save Lucky, which was spun off from the company last year and recently shuttered.
At the same time, insiders noted that Details in print had been struggling. According to data from the Publishers Information Bureau, for the January to September period this year, the magazine logged a 17.9 percent decline in advertising pages, which totaled 403.34. Self’s pages fell just 0.5 percent to 438.07. Details’ misfortune may also be symptomatic of a broader trend in the men’s market. GQ logged a 17.6 percent drop in ad pages to 655.31 for the period.
Nonetheless, the 44-year-old Peres had appeared to be making strides and landing impressive interviews. In October, Details released a 162-page issue that marked the 15 years under Peres. The issue, which was fronted by Bradley Cooper, included interviews with Dries Van Noten, Ryan Seacrest, the architect David Adjaye, Pharrell, Anderson Cooper, Alex Rodriguez and Edward Snowden. Details shot all the subjects — including Snowden — whom the magazine contacted through his lawyers.
When asked then to address speculation of the magazine’s demise, the affable Peres told WWD: “I can say this: for 15 years, I have heard these rumors, and I am sitting here talking to you today as we put out a 15th anniversary issue, and I am still in this office. The magazine is still here. That should say enough. Literally, for 15 years, I have heard this. And so, if I packed my boxes and got a résumé together every time I’d heard these rumors, I would be on an episode of ‘Hoarders’ right now — we’d be surrounded by boxes and stacks of résumés. It is something that I believe exists in an echo chamber, and to date, has not proven true.”
“But, by the way, if it is true, I have a stack of résumés ready to go,” he added at the time.