Private Frazer’s Doomed Magazines

September 6, 2013

Future Tense

Filed under: consumer magazines,Corporate bollocks,Future Publishing — privatefraser @ 8:24 am
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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.

To see what I mean just look at their portfolio of titles; there are no big, skyscraper brands, but a collection of niche and small scale titles. There’s nothing to provide critical mass for support and development services, no cash generator to underwrite launches and experiments, just a bunch of rapidly-declining products. (In the 2012 ABCs only two of Future’s 38 titles had a circulation of over 50,000, and one of those has since been sold).

That’s not to say that these products aren’t good, nor that the people putting them together aren’t.  But big brands in big companies have more resilience in tough markets and can continue to increase market share (in ads and copy sales) even as the overall market declines. They can also justify extra investment to maintain their quality and their pre-eminence. Niche titles in small companies can survive as their overheads are low and their connection to their markets strong. Future’s publishing model doesn’t fit either of these.

As with all the best tragedies we know that there is more bad news to come, it’s a matter of when, not if.

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4 Comments »

  1. As an (ex) Publisher at Future who has stood silently and watched the demise of this company (along with the value of my 12,000 shares!) I find it enormously refreshing to have found your posts.
    It’s about time the senior management at Future were exposed as the pricks they are.
    Paying themselves ridiculously high salaries whilst systematically failing to address the issues of the day nor execute any clear understandable strategy and justifying their abysmal performance with contrived soundbites clearly rankles with me.
    Pip pip – off for a drink now as feel much better!!

    Comment by Richard W — October 9, 2013 @ 4:20 pm | Reply

  2. Love reading the updates on future as a previous employee.. Shame they don’t seem to be changing course..

    Comment by BD666 — November 4, 2013 @ 10:00 pm | Reply

  3. You’re spot on in everything you have said, really wish you weren’t though as I’m still working at the doomed ship! It’s galling that the senior level have been creaming off money for years in large bonuses and pay rises while the rest of us are told the company isn’t making enough profit for us to get anything. Surely those at the top should have to pay for their mistakes not us, each year we’re told to work harder -why? – so they can get another fat bonus and we get nothing? The atmosphere is appalling at the moment, big bad things are afoot and more misery lies ahead…

    Comment by Disgruntled of Bath — April 7, 2014 @ 9:28 pm | Reply

    • It’s not looking good for quite a number of Future staff as of yesterday. Hope ‘Disgruntled of Bath’ has made the shortlist. I’ve been working for them for well over 10 years and am looking okay to remain in my post again, for yet another round of Future musical chairs. Sympathy goes out all my Future chums who are definitely on their way out.

      Comment by Future Fail — May 16, 2014 @ 9:38 pm | Reply


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