Bauer Media Australia has ceased the publication of eight of its titles – including Harper’s BAZAAR, ELLE, InStyle, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Good Health, NW and OK! – as a result of the effects of COVID-19.
Bauer initially temporarily paused these publications in May due to the significant impact of travel restrictions on transit-reliant titles such as NW and OK!, and declining advertising revenue to support Harper’s BAZAAR, ELLE, and InStyle, as well as Men’s and Women’s Health and Good Health.
The move is expected to impact Bauer Media’s print partner, Ovato, as the latter signed a three-year print and distribution deal for all of Bauer Media’s 34 titles in June last year.
Bauer Media A/NZ CEO Brendon Hill said, “It has been a challenging time for Bauer and our team with exciting highs and devastating lows in recent months. We were delighted to acquire Pacific Magazines in May and were thrilled to recently announce a new future under Mercury Capital.
“However, these positive changes have taken place amidst an unexpected, uncertain and unrelenting economic downturn. No one could have anticipated the swift, widespread and ongoing impact of the pandemic on our business and industry.
“We, like many other media companies, have deeply felt the impact of COVID-19. The reinstatement of these titles and teams was always dependent on the advertising market bouncing back and the return of domestic and international travel. Despite promising signs from advertisers in recent weeks, this has not outweighed the medium-term outlook for these titles.
“Additionally, with a second lock-down in Victoria and minimal travel, it is not feasible to sufficiently distribute NW and OK! without transit channels. The financial impact of these factors and the ongoing economic uncertainty makes the return and sustainability of these titles no longer viable. We have been forced to reset and future-proof the business like all of the media industry has.”
Consequently, a number of staff across these titles were also stood down due to a stoppage of work while others will have the option to find alternative employment across the business.
Bauer Media recently announced the return of a Bauer operation in New Zealand after COVID-related restrictions have eased. Government-led distribution restrictions meant that Bauer New Zealand was not able to operate during the lock-down period with the office ceasing in April.
“The return of a New Zealand operation is a green shoot for our staff, brands and readers. The New Zealand market is very different to Australia at this point in time with people back in the office, a more promising advertising market and many Kiwis enjoying domestic travel,” Hill said.
“The easing of restrictions has meant we have been able to bring back around 40 editorial and advertising staff and much-loved titles such as Woman’s Day, New Zealand Women’s Weekly, The Australian Women’s Weekly, Kia Ora, Your Home & Garden and The Listener. As conditions improve, we hope to continue to expand operations there.”
The recent sale of Bauer Media Australia to Mercury Capital also recently received regulatory approvals and was completed on 15 July.
Mercury is expected to work closely with the Bauer executive team to form a new strategy for the business and identify key areas for investment and growth. Bauer Media Australia said it will launch its new brand and strategy in the coming months.
At the time of writing, Sprinter reached out to Ovato for comment.
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at [email protected]
Sign up to the Sprinter newsletter