With an inevitability that would make an Ancient Greek dramatist utter a long, low whistle of appreciation, the ongoing tragedy of Future Publishing moves into yet another act.
This week Mark “Dead” Wood has announced 55 redundancies – on top of the vacancies that haven’t been filled since it introduced a recruitment freeze in July. Dead has blamed (again) the delay in the launches of new games consoles (an argument wonderfully skewered by MCV in July) and the bumpiness of the road to digital. And expect both these arguments to be taken out for long walks again later in the year.
The underlying problems of Future are twofold – the short termism that being a publicly-quoted company engenders, forever chasing a positive spin to put onto its City trading updates, and the fact that Future has always had pretensions to be a Premiership side when really they’re towards the foot of the Championship. They are not Celtic or Aberdeen, more a Morton or a Cowdenbeath. (more…)
For fans of magazine closures, Future Publishing is proving to be the gift that keeps on giving, with news that they are waving good bye to Xbox World and PSM3. The final issues will hit the newsstand on 12 December, after which it will be ‘game over’ for both.
Clair Porteous, Future’s head of entertainment, said ”Future continues to publish the highly successful Official Magazines for Xbox and PlayStation.” Apart, that is, in the US, where they recently announced the closure of Playstation the Official Magazine
What will be next?
Further to yesterday’s post, a commenter has pointed out that Future has also closed Nintendo Gamer magazine as it finally administers the coup de grace to a clutch of long-standing, but poor-selling, titles.
Future’s sales volumes have been pretty pathetic in recent years. Back in 2011 I mentioned that the company had 23 titles with ABCs of under 20,000 and (closures notwithstanding) the situation is unlikely to be much better. These stats are worth bearing in mind when Future pulls its usual stunt of talking up its digital improvements – the vast majority of its revenue is still bundled around small-circulation magazines that are a breath away from extinction.
The sums just don’t add up any more for Future’s PC Plus magazine – FeaturesExec announce that the current issue is the last.
Given that the last ABC for the title showed it sold just 9,000 copies in the UK, no one much is going to miss it and the other titles in the sector (most of which are on the critical list themselves) aren’t really going to benefit.
Also announced is the closure of What Laptop, a title that sold barely 5,000 copies, as Future bins yet more of its ink-wasters.
There’ll be more computer magazine closures very soon, or my name isn’t James Frazer. (Which, obviously, it isn’t, but you know what I mean.)
Stevie’s doing a bit of selling, with Hi-Fi Choice, What Satellite & Digital TV and Home Cinema Choice being offloaded to MyHobbyStore with immediate effect.
None of the titles sells more than 10,000 copies. All have followed the Future model of calamitous sales declines in the past few years.
How many of the staff will relocate from Bath to Sevenoaks has not been disclosed.
Good news from Future! They announce that their digital sales have passed the £2m a year point.
More on that later and why these volumes probably represent only around 5% of their print sales, but first, a competition!
See if you can spot the difference between these two statements from Mark Wood, the CEO of Future UK
“Our UK print magazine sales are holding up well” (1 August – PR statement)
“Sales of UK print magazines on newsstand,… have … seen significant decline (around 10% year-on-year)” (15 July – memo to staff)
Various bits of information are coming through from the poor bloody workers at Future, so rather then post them up here, I thought I’d do a page to follow the effects of Stevie’s recalibrating of the business. The first stuff can be found on this page
I’ll update this as more is announced, or as more is leaked (email@example.com)
If I can be bothered, obviously. Those oatcakes aren’t going to eat themselves.
16 September – Redline to close
A correspondent sends some information from Bath, including copies of staff emails send by the Blessed Stevie and Mark Wood, the UK CEO. More snippets to follow, but Private Frazer was particularly taken with this from Mark’s email to staff on the 15th
As today’s announcement from Stevie shows, the US print business is currently facing far tougher challenges than the UK. But the measures we are taking here are in response to the fact that sales of UK print magazines on newsstand, our largest single revenue source, have also seen significant decline (around 10% year-on-year). We simply have to take action on our costs and our structure in response.
Note the happy correlation between a 10% fall in newsstand and a 10% axing, sorry, recalibration, of staff levels
A trading statement from Future reports revenues that are declining faster than expected, and the Blessed Stevie makes the ultimate sacrifice – she’s going to fire a whole load of people on both sides of the Atlantic. No news on what her pay rise is going to be this year.
So what now for Future’s titles? Which are they going to decide are rooted in the past and have to be ‘recalibrated’ (Stevie’s new euphemism for ‘sacking people’).
A strong rumour has it that PC Format (2010 ABC 9,318, down 21% yoy) is looking down the barrel, but there are several more which seem to have been on life support for some time. In technology, you can take your choice from What Laptop (6,585, down 20%), Computer Arts Projects (6,647 down 20%) and PC Plus (13,727, down 21%) all of which would seem to be long overdue a ‘reorganisation’. Motoring has my perennial favourite Fast Car (19,004 down 27%), Redline (9,623 down 26%), plus the almost utterly pointless Fast Ford and Total Vauxhall; and the music magazines contains three guitar titles, all of which are losing sales.
Gossip from Future should be directed towards firstname.lastname@example.org and watch this space.