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Magazines: crisis or correction?
Periodical publishers in the Middle East talk about how hard they have been hit by the credit crunch, and what they are doing to cope.
March 19, 2009 9:23 by Rania Habib
By the end of last year, Motivate Publishing had announced that it was suspending Society Dubai, and at the beginning of this year, they announced they would be postponing the launch of Men’s Health, which was due to hit news stands in February. Motivate’s managing partner Ian Fairservice says that 2009 will clearly be a year of negative growth in the publishing sector, compared to what he describes as a “sensational” year in 2008. “In spite of early signals in September and October, we still went ahead with the launch of Golf Digest and Campaign, both of which are doing well,” Fairservice tells Communicate.
“We remain excited about launching Men’s Health, but considered that a February launch would not have done justice to the brand,” he continues. “We felt that to go ahead with the launch would have been irresponsible, and our partners at Rodale [from whom the title is licensed] agree that a launch later in the year is a far better prospect. Men’s Health was not our only launch planned for 2009, and we have other new projects – as yet unannounced – which will also still go ahead this year.”
Fairservice adds that in January Motivate introduced a new management structure, including two new group publisher posts. “As a result of this, there have been a small number of job losses since the beginning of the year, but only three redundancies,” he says. “The remaining team members have been found alternative positions.”
The year kicked off badly for football title FourFourTwo, which only came into play in the summer. Its publisher, The Media Factory (TMF), announced in a statement that the magazine would be suspended until the end of the year. “Recently, The Media Factory responded swiftly to a dramatically shifting marketplace,” Chris Shaw, director of TMF, tells Communicate. “This action involved suspending our football title, FourFourTwo, and cutting back on some central costs, which regrettably included letting a small number of staff go. The exercise was designed to reduce costs and in turn minimize future risk to our company and our existing portfolio. That said, the remaining portfolio is continuing to perform and, like all businesses at the moment, we are monitoring each area of our business very closely.”
Shaw goes on to say that TMF is committed to “a couple of high-profile launches in 2009, which of course means that we will soon be recruiting again.”