Is ACP purging senior execs involved with the disastrous 1st Fleet magazine distribution deal?

Online journal Australasian Investment Review has an interesting report this morning
which claims the “ill-fated decision to outsource the distribution,
warehousing,
sorting and handling of all magazines in NSW and Victoria to 1st Fleet
has hit management of ACP Magazine’s Network Services like a boomerang
on the head, resulting in key personnel loosing their job just before
Xmas.”

According to the AIR story, the
major overhaul comes hot on the heels of the appointment of Ian
Law as CEO of ACP Magazines and saw, among others,
MD Phillip Parsons and General Manager Alan Sun lose their jobs. Newly
appointed Law was previously CEO of West Australian Newspapers Holdings
(WAN).

Officially Alan Sun has suddenly “retired.” Parsons was
not granted a similar face saving departure. Parsons previously worked
for Toll Holdings’ (TOL) logistics division and, according to our
source, inside Network Services he was seen as responsible for the 1st
Fleet outsourcing contract.

In addition to Sun and Parsons, the
financial controller, several account managers and other personnel at
Network Services were retrenched as well, our source says, with new
plans and initiatives being shelved on the spot.

The
major overhaul comes after more than two years of severe operational
struggles which market rumours say have cost both ACP/Network Services
and Network Services’ competitor Gordon & Gotch, owned by PMP Ltd
(PMP), in terms of lost subscriptions, lost revenues and eroded
goodwill from sales outlets, such as newsagents.

Today’s ongoing
operational problems originate from logistics service provider 1st
Fleet’s win, a few years ago, of the outsourcing contracts for the
distribution, warehousing and handling of all magazines from both
Gordon & Gotch and ACP/Network Services. Even before all
responsibilities from both distributors were transferred to 1st Fleet
during 2004 market rumours had it the company was in no way, shape or
form ready to take on the massive tasks.

The AIR report also includes these interesting observations on
ACP’s efforts to solve the problem and the possible impact on
circulation figures:

…it would seem ACP’s logistic and administrative problems are still far
from over with our source claiming the current modus operandi does not
allow management any insight into the amount of returned magazine
copies. “Nobody has any idea. Newsagents can literally fill out
anything they want, and as long as they don’t make it too obvious, they
will never get caught…”
It really makes one wonder how accurate those published circulation figures are, doesn’t it?