EMAP poised to wield the axe to help drum up efficiency savings

Heat

Observers are expecting EMAP to announce a radical overhaul of its Consumer Media division when it next updates the City on March 27 on its recent trading.

It is thought that EMAP is likely to divest some of its businesses and cull underperforming consumer titles.

The expected overhaul follows the efficiency review undertaken by Boston Consulting Group, a review which has already led to the departure of high-profile strategic brand and marketing director David Pullan.

EMAP says its strategic review of consumer magazines and radio centres on “processes, systems and organisational structures”.

But commentators maintain that underperforming titles could be closed down or sold off to meet EMAP’s earmarked cost savings of £20m per year. One media buyer says: “EMAP is ruthless and will not hesitate to close down publications.”

Commentators also believe there could be a rejig of senior executives within the media group.

EMAP’s radio arm is also likely to face an overhaul, after it was blamed for the company’s recent profit warning.

The threat of changes across the division was given more impetus after news that a clutch of consumer titles suffered double digit percentage year-on-year sales decline in the latest ABC figures.

Zoo’s circulation fell by 22% while FHM’s was reduced by 26%. On top of this, a number of observers are predicting that men’s monthly Arena could face an uncertain future. Speculation is rife that the media owner has already cut the print runs of FHM and Zoo to save costs in the short term.

One observer says Arena, which also suffered a double-digit decline in year-on-year sales, would be an obvious candidate to be sold off as it has serially underperformed.

EMAP’s celebrity publications, such as Grazia and Heat, are likely to escape serious cuts as the ABC circulation figures show them performing well.

Media experts also believe EMAP will preserve women’s celebrity weekly New Woman and new title First.

One source says: “New Woman is a crucial magazine. EMAP has a history of sticking with new start-ups and and if they are not performing, it will improve them.”

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