Bauer Australia CEO Brendon Hill has made some tough decisions. Picture: AAP
Bauer Australia CEO Brendon Hill has made some tough decisions. Picture: AAP

Bauer Media axes eight magazines amid COVID crisis

Bauer Media has axed eight high profile magazine titles due to COVID-19.

Having "paused" several titles in May, the media company on Tuesday announced the permanent closure of Harper's Bazaar, Elle, InStyle, Men's Health, Women's Health, Good Health, NW and OK!

"It has been a challenging time for Bauer and our team with exciting highs and devastating lows in recent months," Bauer Media chief executive Brendon Hill said.

Bauer Australia CEO Brendon Hill has made some tough decisions. Picture: AAP
Bauer Australia CEO Brendon Hill has made some tough decisions. Picture: AAP

"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 amid 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."

The news comes a month after the Australian division of Hamburg-based family publishing giant Bauer Media was sold to Mercury Capital.

Bauer had originally bought the business from the Nine Entertainment Co for $525 million in 2012. The deal included all of Bauer Media Australia's titles covering women's entertainment and lifestyle, fashion, beauty and health, homes, food, motoring and trader lifestyle categories.

At the time, Hill said: "This signals an exciting new chapter for the business. With new ownership and our bolstered portfolio, we have unparalleled opportunities to connect with more Australians than ever before and continue our strategy of digital growth and innovation."

Today, Bauer cited Neilsen AdQuest data stating the industry had suffered a month on month decrease in advertising expenditure in April of 38.8 per cent that marked a $303 million drop in spend.

"We, like many other media companies, have deeply felt the impact of COVID-19," Hill said. "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 lockdown 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."

Many staff were stood down in May when magazine titles were paused with those positions now to be made redundant and others to be moved to other areas of the business.

"The real and significant loss is that of our exceptionally talented and loyal colleagues as part of these closures," Hill said. "We have been optimistic about bringing our team back, however, the market has only seen further decline since stand-downs were implemented in May. We wanted to give direction and clarity to our staff as early as possible, rather than create further uncertainty with irregular publishing schedules. This is a devastating blow to those who are directly affected, the entire Bauer team and the industry as a whole. I would like to acknowledge and thank the hardworking staff across these titles for their commitment and significant contribution to these brands."