As Bauer Media Australia regroups, NZ title sales still possibility

“We are completely committed to every brand.”

With the remaining staff of Pacific Magazines now integrated into Bauer Media, not physically in Park Street though as most working from home, the company is focussing on a re-engaging with the market.

The company has been copping it in the media with a Media Watch headline this week: “Bauer’s brutal cull”. During the report a former unnamed staffer said “Bauer has shown just how little they care”. Former Pacific Magazines publisher and editor Jackie Frank said she didn’t think paused titles would be back.

Bauer supplied the program with a detailed statement addressing all accusations and laying out a road map for its recovery.

Brendon Hill

Bauer Media Australia chief executive Brendon Hill spent time with his executive team last week outlining the vision for the resumption of “normal” trading for staff.

While the business does seem to be committing to Australia, the Q&A session was unable to questions from staff a possible sale to private equity. It is believed Bauer Media Australia very nearly changed hands last year and there are reports the same private equity investor, Mercury Capital, could still be interested in a deal.

There is also interest in New Zealand about trying to bring back some of the recently closed brands – particularly long-standing local magazines The Listener and North & South. Bauer Media this week advised the deadline for bid has been extended to the end of May for interest in NZ titles. However as every day passes with the brands out of the market the value decreases.

Of the recently completed Australian merger, Hill said: “Bauer was always committed to this deal and, along with Seven West Media we worked very hard to make this happen and are delighted to see this come to fruition and look forward to the opportunities this presents.”

While many thought Bauer wanted out of the deal, or at least a post-COVID-19 reduction, Bauer never wavered from its commitment.

Hill has confirmed that all the new titles have a future with Bauer Media:

We are completely committed to every brand. The [Pacific] brands exist wonderfully at the moment – I have no idea why that would change under a new ownership structure.

Andrew Cook

Andrew Cook

Hill has assembled his team at Bauer to run the expanded portfolio. The new Bauer Media Australia director of sales Andrew Cook has returned to magazines as he works alongside Sarah Belle Murphy, executive GM.

“After a period of uncertainty, it is time to move forward as one, strong, innovative business – we have some exciting plans and we’re getting out in the market next week to excite the trade about what our significant growth means to them – there are more opportunities than ever before for our clients to connect with our brand communities,” said Hill.

Publishing pause

Hill also further explained the reason some titles have been pulled from retailers shelves: “As you all know, we have made the decision to put a selection of titles on hold, effective immediately, so I wanted to confirm those and explain why:

NW and OK! – this was predominantly down to the complete drop out of travel and transit distribution channels. These titles rely heavily on the bundles we do in airports so without this, were significantly impacted.

WHO provides an alternative during this time, however, we are reviewing the situation weekly and feel optimistic that as restrictions ease up we will have all of our entertainment titles back very soon.”

One of the weeklies that continues to publish is TV Week, although Bauer has yet to appoint a new editor following the recent departure of Thomas Woodgate.

Hill: “Our ad model brands, as you all know bore the brunt, particularly in the luxury space. The following titles are all on pause:

Harper’s Bazaar
Elle
Instyle
Men’s Health
Women’s Health
Good Health

“It is important to address that our intention is to absolutely reinstate these titles, and get our team members back to work, as soon as it’s possible.”

September is the target date for the return of some of the monthlies, perhaps with their October editions.

Bauer Media publishers

Shane Sutton – Group publisher of homes (Experience at both Bauer and Pacific)
Fiona Connolly – Group publisher across weeklies
Susie Loxton – publisher Luxury Group (ex-marie claire)
Nicole Byers’ role has been extended and will now oversee Australian Women’s Weekly, Country Style and Better Homes & Gardens

Digital brand management remains unchanged:

Fiona Baker – Digital Director Entertainment and Parenting
Lorna Gray– Digital Director Beauty, Luxury and Health
Amber Manto – Digital Director, Homes and Food

Operations

Dean Burge – Head of Product/Technology
Neil Donnelly – Head of Digital Ad Ops
Tessa Rex – Director Video & Audio
Annabel Hodges – Director Audiences

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