The owners of the former Bauer Media Australia titles Mercury Capital has shocked staff and the market by closing eight major brands. The titles impacted are mostly licensed brands meaning Mercury will not be paying royalties, but it will also have to give up the digital rights as well.
The titles closing are Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, InStyle, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Good Health, NW and OK!
In a note to staff Mercury Capital’s magazine chief Brendon Hill said it was “no longer viable” to publish the eight paused titles.
Hill explained: “Whilst we were very optimistic to bring back all staff currently on stand down and return all titles in a few months, the lack of long term advertising market confidence and the escalating situation in Victoria and NSW is an unfortunate sign that the impact of Covid is ongoing and unrelenting. Whilst we were beginning to see promising signs short term, the market remains too volatile to confidently forecast the next 6-12 months.”
The promising short term signs is possibly a reference to sales success Harper’s Bazaar was having with the brand though to have achieved its target of ad pages before it would return to print.
While there is no detail of the number of staff impacted by the decision, Hill said: “As part of these closures we will lose a number of our exceptionally talented, hard-working and loyal colleagues who are currently on stand down. We remained committed to bring these staff back and were looking forward to having a full team back, however the further market decline and long-term impact has made this impossible to achieve.”
Hill added there will be some staff not currently on stand down who will be let go. “This is a huge blow to the affected staff, the broader team and the industry.”
The move to axe eight titles from the group comes just days after Mercury Capital announced it was restarting magazine titles in New Zealand – Woman’s Day, New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, The Australian Women’s Weekly NZ, Your Home & Garden, The Listener and Air New Zealand’s magazine Kia Ora.
Meanwhile Mercury Capital has sold the New Zealand titles North and South and Metro to independent publishers, which will resume publication “as soon as possible”.
North & South has been sold to independent publishers Konstantin Richter and Verena Friederike Hasel, with Metro is going to Simon Chesterman.
The new-look Mercury Capital New Zealand operation will launch with a team of about 40 after the old Bauer Media New Zealand had a staff of close to 300.