LONDON — The British media landscape is shifting quickly as the country emerges from COVID-19, with two major media groups preparing to lay off hundreds of commercial and editorial employees as they restructure.
At Condé Nast U.K. job losses are in the pipeline as part of a broader strategy set by Roger Lynch, Condé Nast’s chief executive officer, who has been seeking to streamline the company and integrate the U.S. and international businesses as part of his ongoing turnaround plan.
“As we continue to bring together our European business and transform our global operations, we are entering into a collective consultation process to evolve some of our teams, roles and capabilities. We are fully committed to supporting employees during this time,” a Condé Nast U.K. spokesperson said.
A consultation process is the initial step U.K. companies must take before they lay off workers. Employees are entitled to ask their employers why they are being made redundant, and whether there might be opportunities to work elsewhere within the company.
It is understood that some, but not all, editorial and commercial teams in the U.K. will be impacted, including AD, GQ, Wired, Vogue and CN Traveller. Condé’s overarching aim is to grow its titles’ audiences globally, and to build local stories into the globally distributed content. As part of that strategy it has centralized global control of each of its titles on one editor in either the U.S. or U.K., which resulted in a stream of longtime Condé editors in chiefs in several European countries heading for the exit.
The company also plans to invest in workforce and content creation, and is targeting double-digit revenue growth in 2021.
Condé competitor Hearst U.K. is also streamlining, and according to a report in The Daily Telegraph earlier this week, it plans to slash about 200 jobs, or a fifth of its local workforce. Hearst U.K. publishes titles including Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Men’s Health, Elle Decoration and Esquire.
The Telegraph also reported that Hearst U.K. plans to shut the local edition of Town & Country magazine and sell the nutrition and health advice website NetDoctor.
A Hearst Magazines spokesperson said “the well-diversified and stable parent company has enabled us to stand by our employees through the worst of the health crisis by protecting jobs and benefits.”
“While our path to the future has not changed, the pandemic has accelerated trends in consumer behavior and media consumption, and we need to further transform our organization to better serve our audience and advertisers and invest in growth areas.”
The spokesperson declined to comment on the number of jobs to be eliminated or on its plans to shutter Town & Country and sell NetDoctor.
However, it is understood that enhanced voluntary redundancy packages are being offered to employees within Hearst U.K.
As reported last week, Hearst Magazines in the U.S. has been offering voluntary buyouts to staffers in its advertising sales and marketing division.
Debi Chirichella, president of Hearst Magazines, cautioned in a staff memo that involuntary departures may occur later this spring, and that more changes are on the horizon in Europe, specifically in the U.K. and the Netherlands, including some reductions in frequency and brand closures.
Earlier this week, Marie Claire U.S., a joint venture between Hearst Magazines and Marie Claire Album, was sold to the U.K.-based media company Future.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Future also owns Marie Claire U.K., Woman&Home, GoodToKnow and MyImperfectLife.com.