MOVING ON: Could Porter magazine be going the way of so many other lush glossies, which are resizing, going digital-only or disappearing?
Porter, which launched in February 2014 as a bimonthly, might be saying goodbye to its founding editor and global content director Lucy Yeomans, and its publisher Tess Macleod Smith, but Porter’s owner YNAP said it’s fully committed to the print title and the entire Porter franchise.
“Porter is a world-class, differentiated proposition with a pioneering vision that Net-a-porter is fully committed to,” a YNAP spokesman said Tuesday. “The business has been built on excellent content and it remains a very important part of our customer proposition.”
Veteran magazine editor Sarah Bailey will become acting editor in chief, having joined Porter from Hearst last year. She will continue to work with a team that includes Jenny Dickinson, Kay Barron and Newby Hands. Yeomans had recruited Bailey, former editor in chief at Hearst’s Red magazine, to develop the publication’s event strategy and build it as a stand-alone brand.
The company is set to launch the fifth anniversary issue of Porter, featuring Gisele Bündchen photographed by Mario Sorrenti.
Sources familiar with Richemont, which purchased the entirety of Porter’s parent YNAP last year, have a different story to tell. They said Richemont and YNAP have been “in ongoing discussions” about the fate of Porter, which remains loss-making. Although the print title has built a solid ad base and events franchise, including its Incredible Women talks and charity galas, money has become a sticking point.
Sources said discussions about Porter’s future have been taking place at group level, and that neither Yeomans nor McLeod Smith were involved, with both making their own decisions to move on.
“Richemont liked the idea of a print magazine, but then they looked at the numbers,” said one source, adding that YNAP has been subsidizing the title, viewing it as a marketing tool for the brand. Porter recorded a circulation of 180,646, according to BPA Worldwide in 2017, the latest figure available.
Yeomans, the magazine’s founding editor, said she was proud of the work that she’d done in the six-and-a-half years at Porter. “As Porter hits its five-year anniversary milestone, it feels like the perfect time to take on an exciting new challenge.”
Yeomans and Macleod Smith join staffers including Porter’s former fashion director Gabriele Hackworthy, who left to go to Jimmy Choo where she is now senior vice president of global brand and marketing communications, a new role. Emily Zak, who was Porter’s executive fashion editor, left to go to Vogue International.
The top-level discussions around Porter should not come as a surprise: Last year, Richemont purchased the remaining shares in YNAP that it did not own, valuing the company at 5.3 billion euros, and has been poring over the company books, evaluating future investments and figuring out its priorities for the luxury e-commerce giant.
Net didn’t come cheaply: Last year Richemont cut into its formidable cash pile, spending in excess of 3 billion euros on YNAP and Watchfinder, the pre-owned premium watch specialist.
In the first-half, YNAP grew in the double digits, but brought an operating loss to Richemont’s balance sheet.
Richemont’s operating profit dropped 3 percent to 1.13 billion euros, which the company said came from an increase in costs related to the acquisition and consolidation of YNAP and Watchfinder and to the sale last year of its leather-goods business Lancel.
Together, YNAP and Watchfinder recorded a loss of 115 million euros in the period, an amount Richemont said was related to the amortization of intangible assets recognized on acquisitions.
In addition, Richemont has some big plans for Net and its men’s wear sibling Mr Porter, announcing a joint venture deal last year with Alibaba that will take YNAP to Chinese Mainlanders and tourists alike in a bid to grab a greater share of that fast-growing market.
If Richemont decides to proceed with the current iteration of Porter, the international title could play an even bigger role in the YNAP business going forward. It has certainly been gearing for online growth in particular.
A year ago, Yeomans was behind the launch of Porter Digital, a multilingual editorial platform designed to bring the company’s current content offer under one roof, including a new daily content site called porter.com.
Fusing content and commerce has been at the company’s core since its inception as a shoppable magazine. It already has a weekly digital magazine, The Edit, in addition to the print title Porter. With the new Porter Digital platform, it is looking to create a more integrated approach, bringing all of its media outlets together and responding to customers’ demands for more content.
The new platform was specifically designed for mobile to answer to the shift in consumer behavior, with 50 percent of Net’s total orders being placed via mobile devices. The content is also translated into four languages — English, French, German and Mandarin — in line with the company’s global outlook.