Condé Nast, the owner of glossy magazines including Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ, has slumped to a £14m annual loss as it battles to reshape its business for the digital future.
The high-end magazine publisher reported a pre-tax loss of £13.6m in 2017 – a huge swing from the £6.6m profit recorded the previous year – according to its most recent financial filings made public on Thursday.
The company revealed that revenue was down 6.6%, from £121m to £113m.
The reversal in fortune came in a tumultuous year that saw the British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman leave after more than 25 years, while Nicholas Coleridge, who had run Condé Nast Britain for almost three decades, stepped back to become chairman. The group also halted publication of Glamour as a monthly print title.
“[It] was a transformational year for Condé Nast Britain,” the publisher said in its Companies House filing. “Appointing new leadership across many of our brands, we reorganised team structures and relocated all staff into Vogue House [London]. Condé Nast continues to make significant investments in its long-term digital growth.”
The slide into the red didn’t stop the publisher’s directors from taking home a combined £2.4m, the same as the previous year when the company was in the black. There was also a payment of £1.39m in compensation for “loss of office” for an unnamed member of staff.
Condé Nast said that much of the loss was attributable to one-off exceptional items, and that excluding those costs the publisher made a year-on-year profit of about £4m.
The exceptional charges included £5.7m on business restructuring, including bringing all business units together at the Vogue House office, £2.2m in pension commitments and a near-£5m provision against a loan to Comag, a magazine distribution joint venture with rival Hearst it pulled out of.
The publisher cut more than 50 jobs to employ 610 staff, however the group’s total wage bill still rose £5m to £47.2m.
“Condé Nast Britain’s underlying profit in 2017 was positive,” said a spokeswoman for the company. “Due to exceptional costs, inter-company accounting and the contributions to the closed defined benefit pension scheme, the picture in the public domain is not representative of our profitability.”
The tough trading conditions in the magazine market were also evident in the financial results of the Stylist Group, which has seen its losses double. Stylist was formerly called Shortlist Media, before it shut down Shortlist, the UK’s biggest men’s publication, late last year.
The publisher, which is now focused on building its female-targeted title Stylist, reported a loss of £8.6m in the year to the end of March, up from £4.6m the previous year. Revenues rose marginally to £22.8m, as the publisher expanded into non-print businesses including events and built digital income.
The Stylist Group is now owned by the Scottish publisher DC Thomson, which also owns an array of newspapers, magazines and genealogy sites including the Dundee Courier, Aberdeen Press & Journal, the Beano and Findmypast.