Condé Nast president: "I'm in expansionist mode"

21 May 2015  |  David Pidgeon 
Condé Nast president: "I'm in expansionist mode"

The chiefs of the UK's biggest magazine publishers were talking with confidence at the 2015 PPA Festival - with signals that magazine brands will continue to move far beyond the printed page.

Magazine publishers are both optimistic about the future and are looking to grow - with the president of Condé Nast International, Nicholas Coleridge, telling industry he is in "expansionist mode".

However, it's the very definition of a magazine brand that is clearly facing an expansion of its own - with events, e-commerce, e-learning, video and digital all building upon some very well established 'legacy' print businesses.

Speaking at the annual PPA conference on Thursday (21 May), Coleridge said: "I'm very confident [about the next 12 months] and in a rather expansionist mode at the moment.

"We are still launching magazines around the world, but we've also just hired one hundred people to work in Camden on a new e-commerce business that we've started."

Coleridge added that Condé Nast - publisher of GQ, Wired, Vogue and Vanity Fair - is also investing in an "enormous" new video team. "We're full of beans," he said.

Time Inc. UK has similar ambitions. In February the publisher acquired UK Cycling Events, a company that attracted 60,000 delegates 2014.

Time Inc, publisher of Cycle Sport and Cycling Active, hopes branching into cycling-related events will help cement its brand presence among the engaged and affluent audience of cyclists. It will also improve its visibility among brands such as Garmin, BP and IBM, all of which have sponsored UK Cycling Events.

"I feel confident," said Time Inc UK's CEO, Marcus Rich, on Thursday.

"Magazine brands sit at the heart of fantastic opportunities. The relationship we have with our audiences means we can build new brands, new revenue streams."

Earlier this year, Time Inc. UK also announced it had made a deal between its glossy magazine Marie Claire and Ocado Speciality Stores to launch a new premium 'beauty and well-being' business.

The new multi-million pound venture will be led by Amanda Scott, currently head of buying for beauty and accessories at John Lewis, who will work closely with Marie Claire's publishing director, Justine Southall.

Marie Claire, which first launched in France in 1937, currently has a circulation of 200,000, according to the latest Consumer ABCs.

"From that base there are fantastic opportunities to grow revenues," Rich said. "Grow them in e-commerce, e-learning, in experiential."

It hasn't been an easy ride for publishers to arrive at this point of new-found confidence, however.

Anna Jones, CEO of Hearst Magazines UK, said businesses have had to learn to "pivot quickly" to stay relevant.

"[Digital disruption] changes our business every week," Jones said. "It's like white water rafting and you have to be prepared to pivot and change not on a quarterly basis - but a week-by-week basis."

Time Inc's Rich draws parallels with the record industry where digital disruption was ruthless to the businesses that could not adapt to change.

"We're now looking at completely new business models," Rich said. "I think [magazine publishers] have a greater appetite for risk. I think they are more prepared to fail as they look to generate new revenue streams."



Image: PPA CEO Barry McIlheney with the chiefs of Condé Nast International, Hearst Magazines, Bauer Media and Time Inc. UK.

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