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LUCKY’S NEW LADY: Lucky magazine, struggling for the past two years as two different publishers and Condé Nast tried to turn around the flagging 12-year-old magazine, was jolted Wednesday by a major change in leadership.
Marcy Bloom, the publisher since September 2011, was replaced, effective immediately, by Gillian Gorman Round, an executive who, until now, was mostly unknown outside Condé and held the title of senior vice president, brand development.
Round gets the new title of general manager, a first in all of Condé Nast, in charge of editorial and business. Brandon Holley will continue to be called editor in chief, but will now report to Round, who will in turn report to Condé president Bob Sauerberg.
Round told WWD that Holley has “full editorial control.” Still, it is the first time an editor in chief at Condé has ever reported to a business executive.
Bloom, according to a company memo from Sauerberg, is leaving to “begin her next chapter — working with children in need.”
The development raises questions again about Lucky’s future in print. A source said that Condé has learned from the mistake of shutting down a print magazine in the past, as it did with Domino and Gourmet, and is unlikely to repeat it here.
But Condé has not written off the possibility of decreasing frequency, the source said. Condé has recently turned to that strategy with another magazine that has faltered with advertisers, Brides, which it cut back to six issues a year.
Lucky was the last remaining magazine initially launched by former editorial director James Truman. But it has had a hard time with advertisers and readers in recent years, logging two continuous year of losses in ad pages.
The magazine finished 2012 down 20 percent in pages for a total of 894, according to Media Industry Newsletter, one of the steepest declines industry-wide, exceeded only by Ladies’ Home Journal and Shape. In 2008, it could boast more than 1,500 pages.
In the first half of the year, Lucky lost 15 percent of its newsstand sales, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.
Bloom, the former associate publisher at GQ, was thought of as one of the more able No. 2’s in the company. She was brought in to rescue Lucky as part of a company-wide shake-up in September 2011, taking over from Michelle Myers, but the odds were against her and she was not able to turn the magazine around.
Several sources described her exit as a personal decision. Bloom did not respond to requests for comment.
Round’s appointment was described in Condé’s press release as part of an overhaul of Lucky’s business model, “to encompass a multiplatform offering.” The core of that new model seems to be the addition of an e-commerce platform. Condé did not offer any details about that venture, though it said it would do so at a later date.
After the announcement, Sauerberg emphasized the importance of tapping into ecommerce.
“We have a magazine and a Web site and we’re going to find another revenue stream,” he said.
He again shot down the notion that Lucky would stop existing in print.
Though Condé described the addition of e-commerce as possibly transformative for Lucky, creating a plausible e-commerce business has been one of publishing’s most elusive goals. It also remains to be seen whether e-commerce alone will be enough to turn a property as damaged as Lucky around.
It will now be up to Round to figure out both questions.
Round, a British former beauty industry executive with no publishing experience, has enjoyed one of the fastest rises at Condé. She joined last February from Lancôme USA, where she was a vice president of marketing, to lead “brand development,” a vague title that suggested cultivating e-commerce businesses. At the time, a spokeswoman said Round was asked to “incubate some of our best ideas on behalf of our brands.”
Less than a year after Round’s appointment, however, many publishers at Condé still didn’t know what her job entailed. One of her most well-known projects, several sources said, has been to raise money to build out Domino, Condé’s shuttered shelter magazine that now exists as a tablet-only special edition. But that project has so far been unfulfilled.
During a brief interview Wednesday, Round said for the past year she’s been working on “internal projects.”
As general manager, she said she was ultimately responsible for Lucky’s revenue. Though Holley will report to her, Round will not be pitching features.
“I will work with [Holley] to ensure our content is absolutely in sync with our goals,” she said.
Round said it’s too early to comment on her plans to turn around the advertising losses, or future strategy.
“We will be doing a complete review of the business,” she said.