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February 16, 2018

Publishing News

Note to Readers: MBR Daily will observe President's Day on Mon., Feb. 19. Back on Tues. Feb. 20.

Bauer Launches $12.99, No-Ads Food SIP; Plans 41 SIPs This Year
NY Post: Bauer Publishing this week launched Food to Love, a newsstand title with a $12.99 cover and no ads, with initial distribution of 240,000. "It’s not seeking any subscribers. Down the road, it may book a few ads, but Bauer USA president Steve Kotok says no big deal if it doesn’t. The editor is Julie Blume, a former content director of Taste of Home. Blume is stuffing original recipes developed in the company’s test kitchens into the new mag. 'Food to Love introduces cooks to new ingredients and methods to prepare meals that are good for you, simple and family-friendly,' she said. The first one is dedicated to slow-cooker recipes. Kotok said that special interest publications (SIPs) are one area of growth for the company, which continues to rely predominantly on newsstand revenue" despite the channel's challenges... "Rather than go for the lowest price points in the market--as Bauer does with its celebrity titles such as In Touch, Life & Style and the top-selling service title, Woman’s World--the strategy is now to add higher-priced mags to the mix. 'We’re producing something that is a keepsake, rather than a disposable item,' Kotok said. 'This is 120-page, heavy paper stock. It really is a cookbook.' The company jumped from seven SIPs in 2016 to 17 in 2017. 'We have plans to more than double that this year, releasing 41 SIPs in 2018,” said Kotok. Low price is still a driver. Woman’s World, with its $1.99 cover price, has been the best-selling U.S. newsstand title since 2013, when it pulled ahead of Hearst’s Cosmopolitan. It has been outselling People since 2010. Kotok said that the privately held company had U.S. sales of around $200M last year and 'was up in the 5% to 10% range.'"

Q&A: Meredith Corp.'s Lacy Makes the Case for Magazines
In an interview with the Wall St. Journal, Meredith executive chairman Stephen Lacy says that the Time Inc. acquisition provides the scale (200M unduplicated consumers with 60M unduplicated subscribers) needed to respond to advertisers' desire "to do larger cross-platform deals with fewer players." Meredith built a digital business without cannibalizing its magazine print business, he stressed, noting that Better Homes & Gardens is still printing the same number of copies per issue (8M) as when he joined Meredith in 1998. The 60M combined-titles' subscribers are Meredith's second-largest (after advertising) revenue stream, and it's desirable because "we get the cash and run the business on consumer operating capital," he said. Meredith tends to sell multiple-year subs, renewal rates are "very consistent," and millennials' comfort with paying online with credit cards on an auto-renewal basis enhances cost efficiency and facilitates the ability to raise renewal rates over time. "That’s what gives us confidence: our connection to our consumers, and the fact that consumers pay for our content," he summed up. Meredith's magazines--unlike newspapers hurt by content timeliness challenges--focus on life-stage (e.g. parenting) and lifestyle (e.g. cooking, special interests) activities, and both female and male millennials are even more interested in entertaining at home and home decorating and remodeling than baby boomers, he said. There are big opportunities to expand sub cross-selling to include Time Inc. titles, he emphasized. Regarding the newsstand, he said Meredith will "only focus on places with [high magazine sales] where you make a lot of money... We’ll optimize that channel as best we can where the consumer wants to buy it." Meredith believes it can get the former Time Inc. brands' advertising performance levels up to its own standards and get digital growth to offset print advertising declines. There is no intention to split Meredith's magazine and television businesses into two companies, at least within the next five years or so, he noted.

New EICs of Vanity Fair, Glamour 'Reshaping Teams'
NY Post and Hollywood Reporter (THR) report that yesterday, the new editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, Radhika Jones, and new EIC of Glamour, Samantha Barry, laid off staff. Vanity Fair and Glamour are taking the first steps in reshaping their teams to reflect the new editorial directions of the brands--with new additions and initiatives to be announced shortly,' a spokeswoman for Condé Nast confirmed to the Post. 'The priority for each is to create quality and provocative content across all platforms equally, embracing the next-generation of readers and viewers.' CN spokesperson also told THR no more cuts expected at the two titles for the time being. Post and THR both report that VF staff let go include managing editor Chris Garrett, deputy editors Aimee Bell and Dana Brown, editor-at-large Cullen Murphy and features editor Jane Sarkin; also, longtime executive director of communications Beth Kseniak. THR also cites associate managing editor Ellen Kiell and senior photography producer Kathryn MacLeod, and reports that VF's "digital department--which had been bulked up ahead of the mid-2016 launch of revamped sections The Hive, HWD and Vanities--is said to have been spared in the cutting." Post (which filed later in the day), adds: "Researchers and assistants further down the masthead were also being cut." Total layoffs were 15 to 20, it appears. At Glamour, about five people had been let go as of mid-afternoon, Post reports. [Fashionista put the number at three.] Earlier this week, "creative director Paul Ritter was replaced by Nathalie Kirsheh...[and] model-booker Richard Blandino is also gone," writes Post. "Both technically reported to Raul Martinez, parent company Condé Nast’s corporate creative director, but did most of their work for Glamour, sources said."

Ebony Editor, Historian Lerone Bennett, Jr. Dies at 89
"Lerone Bennett Jr., executive editor of Ebony magazine, where he worked for 52 years, and arguably the 20th century’s foremost African American “people’s historian,” died peacefully as he slept Wednesday in his Chicago home, a daughter, Joy Bennett, told Journal-isms. Bennett was 89 and died of advanced vascular dementia, she said..."

British Titles Report Mixed ABC Performance
WWD: A few British fashion titles saw upticks in circulation in 2H 2017, per the U.K. Audit Bureau of Circulations, including: Harper's Bazaar U.K., Good Housekeeping U.K. and Marie Claire U.K. The overall circulation figure for women’s titles was down 4% YoY, to 4.6M for print and digital combined (print circ declined 5%, digital circ rose 34%). Men’s lifestyle titles as a sector had a better six months, with the category’s combined digital and print circulation up 6% to 1.23M. At Condé Nast, GQ’s combined circ was up 1% to 115,006. British Vogue and Vanity Fair were both broadly flat at 190,032 and 72,038, respectively. Tatler dropped 2% to 78,082 and Wired was down 2% to 50,024. At Hearst Magazines U.K. Esquire U.K. was up 1%, while Elle U.K. fell 2% to 168,850.


Retail News

H-E-B Acquires On-Demand Delivery Service
SN: "H-E-B has purchased Favor Delivery, an on-demand delivery service headquartered in Austin, Texas. Favor Delivery will become a wholly owned subsidiary of the San Antonio-based retailer; terms of the deal were not disclosed. Like many retailers, H-E-B is looking to increase its e-commerce presence. Favor, launched in 2013, operates in 50 cities across Texas and says it's the first U.S. on-demand delivery company to achieve profitability at scale. Favor provides food delivery from grocery stores and restaurants. The company enlists couriers to delivery those products to customers’ homes and businesses in under an hour. With the purchase, H-E-B said it 'gains access to best-in-class consumer-facing technology and the on-demand company's advanced delivery system. H-E-B will also leverage Favor's data-driven approach to capture valuable insights to deliver the best customer experience possible'"...

Amazon Said Consolidating Prime Now, AmazonFresh
"Amazon is working on the consolidation of Amazon Prime Now and AmazonFresh, which has caused layoffs in the company HQ, Yahoo Finance has learned. [Prime Now offers free two-hour delivery for Prime members. AmazonFresh is a grocery delivery service that charges Prime members an additional monthly membership fee of $14.99.] The merger of these two consumer retail business units could eventually streamline a delivery experience for Whole Foods Market, which the company acquired last year. The layoffs, first reported by the Seattle Times on Monday, affected 'several hundred' employees. They were given 60 days to find another internal position before leaving the company, a source told Yahoo Finance. Though the e-commerce giant, which has more than 560,000 employees, very much remains in expansion mode. 'As part of our annual planning process, we are making headcount adjustments across the company--small reductions in a couple of places and aggressive hiring in many others,' an Amazon representative said... The ongoing effort to combine Amazon Prime Now and Amazon Fresh is expected to be completed by the end of this year..."

Wegmans Ranked #2 Among 100 Best Companies to Work For
As in 2017, Wegmans Food Markets is ranked #2 in Fortune's 2018 "100 Best Companis to Work For." (Salesforce was ranked #1.) Wegmans has made the list for 21 years. Fortune's capsule description for Wegmans: "Company loyalty runs deep at this more than century-old grocery chain, which spent $50M on employee development last year (plus $5M in scholarships) and filled half of its open positions internally. Staffers say 'fulfilling' work gives them a 'sense of purpose,' thanks to Wegmans’s mission of 'helping people live healthier, better lives through food.' The civic spirit helps too: The chain reclaims millions of pounds of food every year to feed the hungry." 2017 revenues are listed as $8.6B; units at 122.
Fortune (top 10 list)
Fortune (Wegmans listing)

Costco Tests Computerized Ordering Kiosks in Food Courts
SN: "Costco is testing self-service computerized ordering kiosks in the food court area at two locations in Orange County, Calif. The kiosks were installed in the Tustin and Pacoima stores around the first of the month and have so far been a 'great success and wait times have been cut substantially,' according to a Costco employee who was interviewed by the Orange County Register. A spokesperson at Costco’s Issaquah, Wash. HQ confirmed to SN that 'the kiosks are in the early stages of testing,' but declined further comment..."

Clich Here

More on Walmart Talks to Buy Flipkart Stake
Reuters reports that Walmart is in talks to buy a more than 40% stake in Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart, "a direct challenge to Inc (AMZN.O) in Asia’s third-largest economy, two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday." Earlier reports had the potential stake at only 15% to 20%.


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