Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced that it will lay off 12% of its roughly 600 employees, cutting around 70 positions. MSLO will also cease publishing Everyday Food as
a stand-alone publication and put another title, Whole Living, up for sale.
MSLO plans to reduce the frequency of Everyday Food in half, from 10 times per year to five, and will henceforth include it with subscriber issues of Martha Stewart Living.
While its print footprint is diminishing, MSLO said it will concentrate on increasing
Everyday Food’s online and mobile operations, including the Everyday Food YouTube channel and its daily video newsletter, Everyday Food With Sarah Carey.
The company also said it will cease publishing Whole Living as a stand-alone publication if it is unable to find a buyer by the end of the year; in that scenario the company would fold Whole Living’s content into its flagship Martha Stewart Living magazine.
Like many of their peers in the consumer magazine business, Everyday Food and Whole Living have suffered from declining print ad pages. In the first nine months of 2012, Everyday Food saw ad pages slump 8.7% from 232 to 212, while Whole Living fell 11.1% from 394 to 350, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.
This is the latest in a series of strategic moves and retrenchments for MSLO, which have generally shifted the company away from print to video, including content for broadcast, online and mobile distribution. Earlier this year, the company terminated a programming deal with the Hallmark Channel and struck new video development and distribution deals with Hulu, The AOL On Network and FremantleMedia.
It also launched Martha Stewart Cooking School on PBS, which first premiered in October of this year.
The company also sought to reorganize its merchandising and licensing business through a new deal with JCPenney, although it faces some legal challenges here. In July, New York State Supreme Court judge Jeffrey K. Oing granted a preliminary injunction ordering MSLO to pause its work with JCPenney at the request of Macy’s, which filed a lawsuit against MSLO claiming that the JCPenney deal violates the terms of Macy’s own deal with MSLO.
Specifically, Macy’s claims an exclusive right to sell Martha Stewart-branded goods in categories including bedding, cookware and tableware. JCPenney said it plans to move ahead with the partnership by introducing some products (perhaps in non-competing categories) in spring 2013.