Hearst Magazines, which has mostly avoided layoffs since the pandemic began, said Thursday it will offer voluntary buyouts to all its sales and marketing employees as well as the iCrossing digital ad agency in the US.
The publisher of Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Harper’s Bazaar did not reveal how many buyouts it seeks, but warned if it does not get enough volunteers it may impose involuntary cuts in a matter of weeks.
“While our goal is to solicit enough volunteers, it is possible that involuntary departures may occur later this spring,” Hearst Magazines president Debi Chirichella said in a memo to employees. “If this happens, I want to assure you that this process will be done with compassion and respect for all.”
The voluntary offer is expected to be extended to about 600 of the 2,200 employees in the magazine division, the digital ad agency iCrossing and the branded content group known as HearstMade.
The buyouts will not affect editorial staffers. After a contentious battle, editorial employees voted last summer to unionize with the Writers Guild of America East, but a contract has not yet been hammered out.
The cuts may be deeper in Europe, where International head James Wildman is expected to reveal brand closures and reduction in frequency to staffers.
The only notable layoffs at the magazine empire during in the past 14 months came in November, when the company decided to switch the monthly O, the Oprah Magazine to a membership program that has a new magazine, Oprah Quarterly and behind a $50-a-year paywall. Fifty-nine staffers were laid off as a result.
As part of the changes unveiled yesterday, the company is compressing its operating groups from seven to four.
“While the magazine division is strong, the pandemic has accelerated trends in consumer behavior and media consumption,” Chirichella said. “We need to further transform our sales and marketing to better serve advertisers and to invest in growth areas.”
Tom Kirwan has been elevated to chief revenue office of the magazines division.
The four new groups include Lifestyle, headed by Pat Haegele, senior VP and group publishing director, which will include Good Housekeeping, Oprah Daily, Delish, and Pioneer Woman, among other titles.
Luxury will be headed headed by Carol Smith, senior VP and publishing director overseeing fashion titles Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire and adds Town & Country and Esquire. Youth & Fitness will be headed by Nancy Berger, senior VP and publishing director overseeing Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, and Men’s Health, and Clevver.
Design will be headed by Jennifer Levene Bruno, who is being promoted to senior VP and publishing director overseeing Elle Decor, House Beautiful and Veranda.