Crikey may be banned by the Packers but that doesn’t stop us from scooping the company on its own management changes, as Neville Newsagent reveals the latest shuffling at ACP.
The final step of the management re-organisation at the Packer family controlled PBL, set in train in June with the surprise departure of Peter Yates and his replacement as CEO by John Alexander, is about to be played out.
Sometime this week the reorganisation of the ACP management structure will be officially revealed. It has been widely talked about in the publishing industry since last November.
The upshot will be the further withdrawal of PBL CEO, John Alexander, from the active day to day oversight of ACP, leaving him to concentrate on the growing gaming side of PBL.
Taking a more dominant role will be David Gardiner, presently the Deputy CEO and formerly the chief operating office/chief financial officer of the division, which he joined almost a decade ago.
But most significantly is the promotion and movement of Phil Scott, an Alexander favourite, from the Stocklands House offices of ACP magazines, across Castlereagh Street to the 2nd Floor of 54 Park Street, the corporate suites of PBL’s upper management.
There he will be known as the editorial director of ACP, effectively the deputy CEO but a touch more than a nominal deputy to Gardiner.
Scott is moving from Group Publisher, in charge of the men’s and lifestyle area, to his new role, which will elevate him above that of the other major group publisher, Pat Ingram, who runs the most important part of ACP, the women’s lifestyle magazines, dominated by TheAustralian Women’s Weekly and Woman’s Day.
She will also report to Gardiner and also to Alexander, as will Scott. Gardiner will report to Alexander.
Gardiner was named the Deputy CEO in the management reshuffle in June that also saw David Gyngell become CEO of Nine. But the other changes are something of a surprise.
The Lifestyle and Men’s magazines at ACP that Scott will be leaving (but still overseeing amid broader responsibilities) has more titles than the women’s group, but in terms of importance and revenue and earnings, is secondary to the Women’s Lifestyle magazines group headed up by Pat Ingram.
Scott’s move leapfrogs him past Ingram and across the road into the Corporate offices of PBL on the second floor of 54 Park Street, but she will still have power. Ingram has been at Park Street for sometime.
Scott will be replaced by Michael Kozlowski, presently a publisher in charge of men’s magazines, such as motoring titles. He is a former Sydney Morning Herald sports editor.
Even though Alexander will be handing over the title to Gardiner, he can be expected to continue to take a close interest in the fortunes of the division where he made his name in the Packer empire, firstly as a publisher, and then as CEO.
He succeeded in reducing costs and growing revenue and earnings. Under him as CEO, ACP Magazines earnings more than doubled in the past three years, a job that made him favourite to replace Yates as CEO as the latter fell out of favour with Kerry Packer.
But Alexander’s tenure in charge of the now defunct PBL Media, erected to cover the hole by the surprise firing of David Leckie from the Nine CEO role at the start of 2002, was not a success, given the management instability at Nine.
But Nine seems to be a little steadier now and earned record profits in the year to June and looks like repeating the dose this financial year. Nine has won this year’s ratings quite easily, but still has inferior profit margins than the Ten Network.
But there doesn’t seem much in the way of long-term stability in the new structure at ACP. Gardiner is short on editorial experience, Scott is short on the number crunching skills that has seen Gardiner advanced by Kerry Packer in particular, who favours his numeracy.
Scott and Ingram will put pressure on each other and they in turn will put pressure on Gardiner in the editorial and publishing area. The infighting, already a blood sport at ACP and PBL, will become even tougher in coming months as the trio struggle for supremacy.
ACP grew because Alexander combined very good publishing and editorial skills (and skilled use of key employees) with a high degree of understanding of finances and the nitty gritty of publishing.
That is why he was able to drive earnings, while employing David Gardiner to do the dirty work in restructuring, cost cutting and driving costs down.
This latest change comes as ACP also changes the marketing and research areas, much in the way that the production, publishing and circulation and information technology areas were revamped and put under the control of Michael Mangan mid way through the third quarter of last year.
He is having to deal (along with Phillip Parsons at Network) with the problems of the 1st Fleet distribution contract in NSW and Victoria
These changes in marketing and research have caused the usual moans and groans from those overlooked in the revamp, but the main game is the change at the top and the pressures that will create over the rest of this year, or until one or two people are forced out or leave.
ACP has some highs and lows this year, the launch of the new Madison magazine next year, what to do with the dying Belle magazine, whether the men’s lifestyle magazines and motoring titles should be rationalised to lift earnings, how to boost returns from the Gourmet Traveller magazines, and watching the underperformance of its UK partner, Hearst.
Then there’s the distribution problems in NSW and Victoria with 1st Fleet. They will have to be finally fixed up this year one way or another.