Eight major titles under the Bauer Media Australia umbrella will be shut down due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the company's advertising revenues.
The titles to be closed were temporarily paused in May and include Harper's BAZAAR, ELLE, InStyle, Men's Health, Women's Health, Good Health, NW, and OK!.
Today's announcement from Bauer Media comes just weeks after the group announced it had offloaded its entire Australian publishing business, including a recently acquired suite of publications from Pacific Magazines, to private equity firm Mercury Capital. That sale was completed on 15 July.
Bauer Media ANZ CEO Brendon Hill says the impact of travel restrictions hit transit-reliant titles like NW and OK!, as well as declining advertising revenue to support the other magazines, meant the publications could not continue.
The company also cited recent Nielsen AdQuest data that revealed COVID-19 lockdowns resulted in an 83.8 per cent month on month drop in media advertising expenditure in April, equating to a $303 million decrease in spend.
Further, the data showed that advertising expenditure fell by 32.7 per cent in June.
"It has been a challenging time for Bauer and our team with exciting highs and devastating lows in recent months," says Hill.
"We were delighted to acquire Pacific Magazines in May and were thrilled to recently announce a new future under Mercury Capital. However, these positive changes have taken place amidst an unexpected, uncertain and unrelenting economic downturn.
"No one could have anticipated the swift, widespread and ongoing impact of the pandemic on our business and industry."
Hill says despite promising signs from advertisers in recent weeks the medium term outlook for the titles to be closed was not promising.
"We, like many other media companies, have deeply felt the impact of COVID-19. The reinstatement of these titles and teams was always dependent on the advertising market bouncing back and the return of domestic and international travel," says Hill.
"Additionally, with a second lock-down in Victoria and minimal travel, it is not feasible to sufficiently distribute NW and OK! without transit channels.
"The financial impact of these factors and the ongoing economic uncertainty makes the return and sustainability of these titles no longer viable. We have been forced to reset and future-proof the business like all of the media industry has."
The company says job losses will be inevitable, but it is working to find alternative employment for those at risk of unemployment in other parts of the business.
"The real and significant loss is that of our exceptionally talented and loyal colleagues as part of these closures," says Hill.
"We have been optimistic about bringing our team back, however the market has only seen further decline since stand downs were implemented in May.
"This is a devastating blow to those who are directly affected, the entire Bauer team and the industry as a whole. I would like to acknowledge and thank the hard-working staff across these titles for their commitment and significant contribution to these brands."
As a silver lining, the company announced last week that its operations in New Zealand would resume because COVID-19 restrictions have eased in the country.
"The return of a New Zealand operation is a green shoot for our staff, brands and readers," says Hill.
"The New Zealand market is very different to Australia at this point in time with people back in the office, a more promising advertising market and many Kiwis enjoying domestic travel.
"The easing of restrictions has meant we have been able to bring back around 40 editorial and advertising staff and much-loved titles such as Woman's Day, New Zealand Women's Weekly, The Australian Women's Weekly, Kia Ora, Your Home & Garden and The Listener which is fantastic. As conditions improve, we hope to continue to expand operations there."
Business News Australia
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