Immediately cuts jobs and closes title as costs soar amid economic hardship

Radio Times publisher Immediate Media is closing a magazine and laying off more than 50 people in the face of a ‘sharp drop’ in trade and a £9million rise in costs, including paper and printing.

The publisher, which sells more than 74 million magazines a year, announced the staff changes yesterday (5 October).

top pops magazine is closing its doors and across the company, 58 positions are at risk of being made redundant and 52 positions are expected to disappear.

Immediate employs a total of 804 people at its London and Bristol sites.

In a letter to employees, Executive Chairman Tom Bureau said the company anticipates a difficult economic climate over the next 12 to 24 months and has decided “to act now to put the company in the best possible position to face storm”.

While the Covid-hit 2020 business year had been difficult, the impact was relatively short-lived, with many of Immediate’s brands enjoying a “Covid rebound”.

Last year, the company’s subscriber base passed the one million mark after readers turned to its trusted and special interest magazine brands during the pandemic.

However, business conditions have deteriorated this year, with many financial and business commentators predicting a recession in the fourth quarter of 2022 and into 2023.

“While we predicted a slowdown in 2022 as the world returned to normal behavior, we have seen a sharp decline in recent months, with significantly increased costs, and alongside lower consumer demand for our products on newsstand, higher subscription churn and slower growth in our digital business,” Bureau said.

He cited “huge inflationary pressures” on Immediate’s cost base throughout its supply chain, “particularly in our printing, paper and distribution costs.”

“These represent over £9m of additional direct costs across the business, including a 34% year-on-year increase in paper costs and a 25% increase in printing.”

Cost reduction measures included paper, printing and production changes as well as reduction of discretionary budgets.

Bureau said that alongside declining consumer confidence, trading conditions have become much more difficult than at the last company-wide briefing over the summer.

He noted: “When we offer redundancies they are in no way a reflection of the talented people and teams involved. We appreciate the hard work, expertise and significant contributions of our employees.

top pops magazine is billed as the UK’s best-selling teenage title. The monthly has an ABC circulation of 36,485 and is one of the BBC titles published under license by Immediate.

As well as closing the magazine and downsizing, Immediate is also suspending all non-essential recruitment, removing all vacancies where possible and reviewing production and freelance costs.

Immediate Media was acquired by German media group Hubert Burda in January 2017.

Its flagship brand is the venerable Radio schedulesthe UK’s highest-grossing magazine brand with over 272,988 subscribers and an overall paid circulation of 480,938 according to its most recent ABC certificate from July to December 2021.

Immediate’s main print suppliers are Walstead Group and William Gibbons.

The industry expects other major consumer publishers to also conduct similar reviews in light of rising production costs and the likely impact of the cost-of-living crisis on media spending. consumers.

A publishing industry source commented: “You can imagine that all major publishers will be looking at their titles from the bottom up, and I’m sure there will be changes on the way, whether deliberate or forced, like paper changes that had to be made because of the UPM strike.

“Magazine subscriptions went up during the lockdown, and now they’re down because people aren’t renewing or canceling due to the cost of living crisis. Most of the big name publishers haven’t responded yet, maybe they’ll follow Immediate’s lead.