March 28, 2014 Last Updated 8:24 am

Future plc CEO Mark Wood steps down, CFO to take over; US mag production to move to the UK

U.S. magazine production to be moved to the UK, and editorial leadership of international titles centralized in the UK

Future plc announced major changes over the past two days. CEO Mark Wood has stepped down and will be replaced by the company’s CFO Zillah Byng-Maddick on April 1. Byng-Maddick had previously been the CFO and then interim CEO at Trader Media, publisher of Auto Trader. Prior to Trader Media she was CFO at Fitness First.

ZillahByng-featureThe company released a statement with the usual positive sentiments, but this is a big deal for UK (and US) magazine publishing. Future plc has been an enthusiastic developer of digital editions with well over 100 iPads apps inside the Apple Newsstand. But these new digital editions, while they added some digital subscription revenue, did not appear to have stemmed the loss of advertising pages.

Now, with the CFO promoted to CEO, one can expect major moves to reduce costs. The first of these moves will have a dramatic impact on the publisher’s US magazines. U.S. print production will be shifted from local to the UK.

MacLife-cover-sm“With these changes, all US print support functions such as consumer marketing and production will move to teams in the UK hub,: a Future plc statement said.

“Editorial leadership for Future’s international print brands in the US will now be centralised in the UK, with some limited localised contribution from the US. No brands will be closed as part of this realignment, but US headcount will reduce by approximately one third.”

Two decades ago moves such as this was called reengineering. It was a big word that really meant managing by the cost side of the P&L. While at McGraw-Hill, our division was reengineered by a new division president, resulting in massive layoffs, and eventually his firing, as moves like this succeed at cutting costs but really have nothing to do with building revenues and developing the business. Back then the excuse used was either efficiencies or being more entrepreneurial. Today the word used is digital.

“These changes enable Future’s US business to focus squarely on profitable operation of our core US digital brands, which have increased traffic by 40% in the past year and draw over 22 million unique user visits a month,” outgoing CEO Mark Wood said in the announcement for the move.

The CFO, and soon to be CEO, went straight for the cost savings in her statement: “We are absolutely focused on driving a significant reduction in the cost base of the business to deliver sustained margin improvement. With this activity we have moved decisively to realign resources and build efficiencies while taking a major step towards being a 100% digital business in the US. This is just one example of our determination to right-size Future for long-term success.”

Comments are closed.