WWD will soon have a new owner.
Penske Media Corp. is acquiring Fairchild Fashion Media from Condé Nast, in a deal that includes WWD, its archive, Footwear News, M Magazine and the Fairchild Summits and events business.
Consumer brands Style.com and NowManifest, which were under the Fairchild umbrella, will remain part of Condé Nast. The deal is expected to close next month. Gina Sanders, FFM president and chief executive officer since January 2010, will remain at Condé Nast parent company Advance Publications in a new role that has yet to be disclosed.
Shortly after the news of the impending sale broke, Sanders called an impromptu staff meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. She spoke of her experience as president and ceo of FFM.
“This was the greatest experience of my life,” she said, adding, “I’m enormously proud of the improvements we’ve made to the bottom line.”
Jay Penske, chairman and ceo of Los Angeles-based PMC, told Fairchild staff via memo on Tuesday: “As an organization that recognizes the value of highly informative and original content, as well as the contributions that world-class editors, journalists and producers bring to their diverse audiences and consumers, we at PMC view the Fairchild brands and its team as true leaders in their respective industries.”
Earlier, Penske said, “This is a unique and remarkable opportunity to add a collection of esteemed global brands to our growing portfolio. WWD and the other Fairchild properties are brands the entire PMC organization deeply respects, with an editorial heritage I have revered throughout my career.”
Fairchild employees are expected to move to new PMC New York corporate offices early next year.
Penske said he would meet with Fairchild employees on Wednesday morning.
He concluded his note by welcoming Fairchild to PMC’s “ascending business; we believe there is great opportunity for each of the brands to thrive in our organization. PMC looks forward to setting the stage with you for the next 100 years of Fairchild success, for what is sure to be an exciting new era for WWD, M, Beauty Inc, Footwear News and the Fairchild Summits and events business.”
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Condé Nast ceo Charles Townsend said, “Today’s announcement reflects our strategy of investing resources in our core consumer brands. Condé Nast has enjoyed unprecedented growth in our core consumer print, digital, mobile, video, television and film development businesses; this sale underscores our commitment to accelerating growth in these areas. Gina and her team have done a remarkable job leading FFM and its brands, and I commend them for shaping these businesses into valuable assets which are primed to flourish under Jay’s leadership with the PMC team.”
He added, “This decision comes after a thorough review of options that would position both Condé Nast and FFM for the most attractive, long-term growth opportunities,” he said. “With this sale, Fairchild joins a company with solid trade publishing roots and Condé Nast redoubles our efforts on broadening our reach and impact with premium audiences and advertisers.”
The sale of Fairchild follows the company’s recent decision to spin off Lucky magazine. Earlier this month, Condé merged Lucky with online retailer BeachMint Inc. to form a new e-commerce entity called The Lucky Group, which is majority owned by Condé Nast. The company also combined Epicurious with Bon Appétit’s online team, creating efficiencies.
These moves come after changes in Condé’s executive ranks that included the departures of editorial director Tom Wallace and chief financial officer and chief operating officer John Bellando. Sauerberg’s role also expanded and the company hired David Geithner as cfo to cut costs, sources within Condé Nast told WWD.
Founded by the Fairchild family in 1910, WWD has changed hands before. Most recently, the fashion business paper and its sister publications, which included W (still owned by Condé), and Jane (defunct), were sold by The Walt Disney Co. to Advance Publications, the parent company of Condé Nast. That sale of Fairchild, which included a vast fashion archive, 13 trade and consumer publications, a book-selling division and a trade-show partnership, was for a price that was widely reported as $650 million.
Financial terms of the Penske deal were not disclosed.
PMC, headquartered in Los Angeles, is a leading digital media, publishing and information services company founded in 2003. PMC engages audiences across the Web, television, mobile, print and social media —reaching more than 144 million consumers monthly (comScore, 2014), and was recently named one of the Top 100 Private Companies in the United States. PMC is one of the leading digital media companies in the world, publishing more than 20 digital brands, including an extensive joint venture in India with Zee TV, as well as 40 annual events/conferences and a dynamic research and emerging data business. PMC brands include PMC Studios, Deadline.com, Variety magazine, Variety.com, CricketCountry.com, HollywoodLife, ENTV, India.com, TVLine, BGR, AwardsLine, Movieline, LA411, NY411 and Variety Latino, a joint venture with Univision.
In a statement, the company expressed a “dedication to innovation, editorial integrity and original content.…PMC is committed to building and investing in brands, ideas and digital experiences that inform, entertain and connect the world. With its acquisition of Variety magazine, Variety.com and the Variety Data and Events business, PMC took a strategic approach in driving a marked evolution of the 109-year-old Variety brand, resulting in record revenue and profit growth, along with a massive traffic surge across the publication’s digital operations. Within the first two years under new leadership, PMC quickly helped Variety diversify its business internationally and significantly reduce its dependency on print revenue, all without deviating from the esteemed brand’s core values.”