Condé Nast Britain is not immune to the troubles of the wider magazine publishing industry has been facing for the past several years.
The publisher, which is headquartered in London and is part of now-official plans to fully integrate with Condé Nast in the U.S., lost just under 14 million pounds in 2017, according to a regulatory filing with Britain’s Companies House, a national public registry. According to records, this is the first loss for the Condé arm since 1995.
A majority of the loss was attributed to an internal reorganization, which clearly predates the recent decision to announce the U.S./Condé Nast International integration and included a number of leadership changes, like those to British Vogue. Edward Enninful was brought in to replace Alexandra Shulman there, and longtime staffers like Lucinda Chambers were cut. The company also consolidated all operations into Vogue House in London and whittled away about 60 staffers during the year. Nevertheless, total staff costs grew to 47.2 million pounds from 42.6 million pounds.
Overall, revenue fell 6.6 percent to 113.5 million pounds. A report for the rest of Condé Nast International is expected next month and could paint a rosier picture of non-U.S. operations, which have been under the purview of Jonathan Newhouse for several years.
But in the U.K, the company noted that it decided to wind down a 35 percent stake in a newsstand distribution business it had through a partnership with Hearst, and shift to a third-party distributor.
“Condé Nast continues to make significant investments in its long-term digital growth, including the development of multiple global platforms to unlock the potential of our global network and better serve our audiences and clients,” the publisher wrote in the filing.
Were it not for the restructuring, Condé said the international business would have posted a profit of just under 4 million pounds. Even if that had been the case, it’s still below 2016, when the company posted a profit of 4.3 million pounds, roughly the same as 2015.
A spokeswoman reiterated that “underlying profit was positive” and insisted that “the picture in the public domain is not representative of our profitability.”
While the financial picture seems relatively clear, even if it’s not permanent, a focus on digital growth makes sense, considering circulation for the nearly every U.K. title, including Vogue, House & Garden, GQ and Tatler, fell during 2017. Condé Nast Traveller, which is set to absorb the operations of its U.S. counterpart this year, was one of the few that actually grew its circulation, hitting 80,000 from 78,000 in 2016.
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