A quarter of Dennis Publishing UK staff facing redundancy

Exclusive: owner of magazines including The Week and Viz badly hit by Covid-19 crisis

The owner of dozens of magazines including The Week, Minecraft World and Viz has put a quarter of its UK staff into a redundancy consultation process as the coronavirus crisis hammers the publishing industry.

Dennis Publishing, the company founded by the late media entrepreneur Felix Dennis, has begun a consultation process with 122 of its approximately 480 UK staff. The company is understood to be seeking to cut just over half of those staff involved in the consultation.

The company, which was sold to private equity group Exponent two years ago for £166m, has a portfolio of titles mainly in the technology, fitness and cycling sectors. Brands range from Cyclist and Expert Reviews to Fortean Times and an unofficial guide to global phenomenon Fortnite.

“The impact of Covid-19 has been significant for the publishing sector,” said a spokesman for the company. 

“As a result, this week we will begin a redundancy consultation process here in the UK. We are fully committed to supporting employees in impacted groups throughout this period and ensuring that this process is fair and transparent.”

The publisher, which once owned Maxim before shutting the lads’ magazine more than a decade ago, said that it has been forced to make redundancies as cost savings measures had not proved to be enough to weather the impact of the pandemic.

“Although we are confident that Dennis has a bright future, we have not been immune to its economic impact,” said the spokesman. “We have worked hard to reduce our costs and found savings in several areas; however, the outlook for our advertising, events and retail businesses, which accounts for approximately a third of the group’s revenues, has deteriorated due to the pandemic. Other revenue areas of the business have been mostly unaffected.”

The company also employs 133 staff in the US who are understood not to be affected by the job cuts at this stage.

With the nation on lockdown and advertisers pulling budgets as businesses grind to a halt, magazine and newspaper publishers have been financially hammered. Enders Analysis estimates that UK magazine publishers will lose £200m in advertising spend and £52m in copy sales due to the impact of the coronavirus.

Last month, Bauer Media, one of the UK’s biggest magazine publishers, said that it was considering closing, selling, merging or shutting the print edition of 10 titles including music bible Q as the coronavirus crisis hastens the shift of readers and advertisers online.

Chris Duncan, the former News UK executive who runs UK publishing at Bauer Media, said that a number of the 100 titles it publishes “are not expected to be sustainable after the crisis”.


Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

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