Cahners Gets Back in the Game

Article excerpt

During the past two years of frenzied merger-and-acquisition activity in the magazine industry, Cahners Publishing Co. has stayed for the most part on the sidelines, its conspicuously low profile prompting questions about parent company Reed Elsevier PLC's commitment to the trade-publishing giant.

But with an overhaul of its archaic geography-based management structure, the introduction of a multimillion-dollar ad campaign and a renewed commitment to acquisitions, Cahners hopes to lay those doubts to rest. (Although executives of the Newton, Massachusetts-based company declined to outline any acquisition plans, industry sources say that Cahners is pursuing Advanstar Communications.)

New management structure

Several weeks ago, Cahners announced that it was moving to a new cluster-based setup, replacing its four geographic units with 10 market-focused divisions. Cahners executives believe that flattening the structure will make these divisions more responsive to their clients, usher in more innovation, and provide added incentive to top management.

Although many other publishers have long used such organizational structures, the move represents a sea change at Cahners. The former organizational chart was a relic of a much smaller company. Ten years ago, Cahners generated revenues of less than $50 million; today, with 85 magazines, that number approaches $1 billion, according to industry sources. …