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Condé Nast’s Black Monday Memo

CEO Chuck Townsend’s e-mail to staff: ‘Changes will speed recovery of our businesses.’

Following the much-hyped "study" by McKinsey & Company of its publishing business, Condé Nast announced Monday that it will cut four magazines — Gourmet, Cookie, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride — from its portfolio.

While they knew cuts were coming, sources at the company characterized the mood inside 4 Times Square today as, understandably, dire.

Here’s how CEO Chuck Townsend broke the news to staffers:

—— Original Message
From: "Townsend, Chuck"
Date: Mon, 5 Oct 2009 10:16:52 -0400
Conversation: Announcing Changes within Condé Nast
Subject: Announcing Changes within Condé Nast

We have now completed an extensive review of our business – an important undertaking given the dramatic changes in the U.S. economy. The review has led us to a number of decisions designed to navigate the company through the economic downturn and to position us to take advantage of coming opportunities.

Condé Nast’s success comes from the ability of our publications to attract readers with a wide range of interests, as well as advertisers who value them. But in this economic climate it is important to narrow our focus to titles with the greatest prospects for long-term growth.

As a result of our review, Brides will increase its frequency to monthly to solidify its position as the most important brand in the bridal category, and Modern Bride and Elegant Bride will close.

Gourmet magazine will cease monthly publication, but we will remain committed to the brand, retaining Gourmet’s book publishing and television programming, and Gourmet recipes on Epicurious.com. We will concentrate our publishing activities in the epicurean category on Bon Appétit.

Finally, Cookie magazine will be discontinued, and resources that had been dedicated to its publishing will be invested elsewhere.

The editorial and business staffs of Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Gourmet, and Cookie all have earned their magazines large and devoted followings. We have been proud to publish these titles, and we are grateful to the staffs for their hard work and dedication.

These changes, combined with cost and workforce reductions now underway throughout the company, will speed the recovery of our current businesses and enable us to pursue new ventures. In the coming weeks, we hope to announce initiatives to develop digital versions of our brands that will make use of new devices and distribution channels.

Condé Nast is now in its 100th year of creating the most respected and iconic brands in the publishing world. These changes will ensure that our unique publishing company will continue in its preeminent position for many years to come.