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May 13, 2021

Publishing News


Roundtable With Distripress's Lizanne Barber
Joe Berger and other members of the "Pandemic Roundtable" recently held a discussion with Lianne Barber, managing director of Distripress, the international association of distributors, publishers, and associated press industry supply chain service providers. Excerpts from Barber's comments: "People are willing – and wanting – to meet up again face to face. So we’re planning a two-day conference in Zurich this fall, with a half-day forum of industry presentations and a day and a half of face to face meetings. For those who cannot attend we will be offering a virtual meeting platform a few weeks later and the opportunity to view and listen to the half day Forum presentations on the Distripress website, which will be available to all members. The planned – and widely anticipated- larger Congress in Estoril has been moved to 2022 when we plan to welcome all members back in full force... We are also starting a bi-monthly newsletter for our members, to bring positive news stories to the community... On what publishers are focused on now: "E-commerce. Everyone’s looking to develop this revenue stream, here in the U.S. and all over the world. For distributors, the focus is more on exploring the expansion of potential new product lines. A sustainability note runs throughout... [In addition to MBR's program in the U.S.], I am aware of exploration into this area in several countries, for the same reasons as the U.S. Customers shifted to online sales from supermarkets and magazines have been under-represented. The technical aspect with frequency of product change is a challenge... Distripress can put people together who are working on the exact same projects in different countries. They can share learnings, make swifter progress, avoid mistakes." On newsstand sales trends around the world: "Many markets have seen the loss of travel channel sales, which has had an impact on sales. But there are also green shoots coming through in different territories, places where sales are looking up and some surprising successes... Most if not all territories have only one main distributor, certainly for international press, and even for domestic. The slowdown in print sales you see in the U.S. is reflected to differing extents globally. This drives the determination of the distributors to diversify to pick up efficiencies of sale that are needed"... On whether magazine launches are rising in other regions, as they have been recently in the U.S.: "There have been over 50 in the UK so far this year; so yes, quite a bit of activity. Also I am aware of two French publications which have launched off the back of celebrity TV personalities... From smaller, as well as larger, publishers, with quite a few niche premium products: knitting, crafts, transgender, very nice, rich product."
 

People Teams With Glenn Close's Nonprofit on Mental Health Series, Issue Focus
Meredith release: People has teamed with Glenn Close and her nonprofit organization, Bring Change to Mind, on a four-part virtual panel discussion series on mental health and young people through the lens of masculinity, race, LGBTQIA, and digital life. The series, whose moderators include People editor in chief Dan Wakeford, will stream on PeopleTV, People.com, People's social channels and BringChange2Mind.org on May 24 - 27. Glenn Close, her sister Jessie Close and nephew Calen Pick are featured in the 5.24.21 issue of PEOPLE (on newsstands Friday, May 14), where they talk about the experiences they faced when Jessie was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Calen with schizoaffective disorder. This inspired the family to become mental health advocates..."
 

NY State Senators Send Letter to Condé Supporting Unions
In a tweet, The New Yorker Union says that 20 New York State senators are calling on The New Yorker and Condé Nast to "agree to fair contracts with The New Yorker, Pitchfork and Ars Technica unions. The senators sent a letter to Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch.
 

The Nation Starts Nonprofit To Fund Journalistic Training
MediaPost: "The Nation has launched a nonprofit group to help educate young journalists and encourage diversity. The new organization — The National Fund for Independent Journalism/The National Fund on Facebook — will fund the publication’s programs to develop new talent. “We’re at an inflection point in our industry — we must prioritize the diversity of our newsrooms, of management, and of the content journalists produce in order for independent journalism to truly rise to cover this moment,” states Sarah Burke, development director of The Nation Fund. Burke adds the fund will allow the educational efforts to reach ”heights that weren’t possible within the magazine.” The fund will support such initiatives as: The Victor S. Navasky Internship Program — This will benefit five editorial interns trained in research, fact-checking and reporting, and one publishing intern, focusing on the future of the news business, including digital marketing, advertising and other functions. StudentNation — An editorial program to encourage college-aged journalists. Puffin/Nation Student Journalism Conference — An event to teach independent students best practices for covering social movements. “From the New York Times to the New Yorker to our own masthead, The Nation has seeded the industry with the talent, passion and know-how to produce award-winning, fact-based accountability journalism,” adds Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher of The Nation. Vanden Heuvel was an intern in the program. The Nation was founded by abolitionists in 1865."
 

Travel + Leisure: Extending A Venerable Brand
Travel writer Harvey Chipkin writes in MediaPost: "How do you take a venerable brand name and extend it, particularly to relatively unrelated products? In the case of Travel + Leisure, the recent brand extension has been dramatic. Known as a magazine catering to high-spending travelers for about a half century, the name was purchased by vacation club and exchange company Wyndham, with the Travel + Leisure name to replace Wyndham Destinations. It also now lends itself to: The magazine (including online content), which has been licensed back to Meredith Corp., and will publish with complete editorial independence, according to Noah Brodsky, president, Travel + Leisure Group and chief brand officer... Time-share brands Wyndham Destinations, Club Wyndham and Margaritaville... Panorama, which offers vacation exchange as well as travel club memberships and includes vacation exchange company RCI. All told, there are nearly 20 travel brands across a sprawling resort, travel club and lifestyle portfolio under the T+L umbrella, with more to come. A major launch was booktandl.com, a platform on which consumers can plan and book a trip. The beauty of having the connection to the magazine, said Brodsky, is that “people can be inspired by the magazine and can then book on the platform.” The “play” around the booking platform, said Brodsky, centers on the magazine’s expert content, including guidance for traveling to just about every city in the world. There are “actual editorial recommendations,” rather than amorphous stars or other ratings. The booking platform will lay the foundation for a summer launch of a T+L subscription travel club, offering benefits and perks when traveling or at home for a monthly fee of $10. Members of the club will have exclusive privileges to travel products closely tied to editorial content in the magazine. If, for example, there’s an article about Greece that mentions a restaurant, readers will be able to get special access and possibly a discount for that establishment. The goal is to move customers from the booking platform into the club and perhaps to a relationship with the A List, travel advisors who have been certified by the magazine as the best in their specialties. As with entertainment like video, subscriptions seem to be a dominant trend, according to Brodsky. Research shows that people with multiple subscriptions of any kind want more, including a travel subscription. In the near future, said Brodsky, there will be a number of major players in travel subscription, delivering content and value, “and that is where we want to be.” The reasons for capitalizing on the T+L brand are myriad, according to Brodsky. He said the name is iconic and represents “trust, likeability and a global presence.“ It also has 50 years of content, which is being digitized. “You can get lost on the site" because there are thousands of reviews, and extensive and reliable content"...
 

OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:



Retail News


U.S. Jobless Claims Fall to Another Pandemic Low
WSJ: "Jobless claims continued a several-week slide to new pandemic lows, in a sign hiring is primed to strengthen as workers return to the labor market. Worker applications for unemployment benefits fell to 473,000 last week from a revised 507,000 a week earlier, the Labor Department said Thursday. Claims remain above pre-pandemic levels but are now at the lowest point since mid-March 2020, when the pandemic shut down the economy and triggered widespread joblessness. The four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility in the weekly numbers, also reached a new pandemic low of 534,000"...
 
Wall St. Journal (paywall)

Grocery Outlet Q1 Earnings Up Despite YoY Sales Downtick
SN: "Grocery Outlet Holding Corp. saw earnings climb in the fiscal 2021 first quarter, while tough year-ago comparisons to sales spikes from consumer panic-buying at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led net and same-store declines. In the quarter ended April 3, net sales totaled $752.5M, down 1% from $760.3M a year earlier. Comparable-store sales fell 8.2% YoY, the Emeryville, Calif.-based value grocer said. The decreases compare with gains of 25.4% in net sales and 17.4% in comp-sales during the 2020 quarter, in which the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic (March 11) and the United States declared the virus a national emergency (March 13), triggering a rush of shoppers to grocery stores of all stripes to stock up on food and essential supplies.At the bottom line, Grocery Outlet posted first-quarter net earnings of $18.89M, or 19 cents per diluted share, up 49.4% from $12.64M, or 13 cents per diluted share, a year ago. Adjusted net income came in at $23.12M, or 23 cents per diluted share, down from $28.75M, or 30 cents per diluted share, in the prior-year period. Analysts, on average, had forecast adjusted earnings per share of 22 cents, with projections ranging from 21 cents to 25 cents, according to Refinitiv... "Comp-sales decreased 8.2% following a 17.4% increase in the same period last year," said CEO Eric Lindberg. "New stores continued to perform in line with our expectations, contribute meaningfully to total sales volume, which was down a modest 1%. Profitability remained strong with adjusted EBITDA margin above 2019 levels. We attribute our continued strong performance to the steadfast execution of our differentiated business model. Our value proposition is as strong as ever, and our ability to deliver extreme savings, a treasure hunt experience and a locally curated assortment in a friendly environment continues to resonate with customers.” During the first quarter, Grocery Outlet opened 10 new stores and closed one location, ending the period with 389 stores in California, Washington, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Idaho and Nevada, compared with 355 a year earlier. “So far in the second quarter, we’ve opened six additional locations and continue to see new stores perform well across geographies,” Lindberg said. “Within the next few months, we will be opening our 400th store in Hailey, Idaho, a town just south of the Sun Valley ski resort and east of Boise.” Grocery Outlet remains on track to open 36 to 38 stores in 2021. Three to five of those locations will be in the East, including two stores recently opened in East Norriton and Mount Airy (Philadelphia), Pa."
 

Southeastern Grocers Adds 'Rewards Boosters' to Savings Options
SN: "Southeastern Grocers (SEG) has enhanced its customer loyalty program with “rewards Boosters,” a new feature providing personalized savings offers in a game-style challenge. Jacksonville, Fla.-based SEG said Thursday that members of the Winn-Dixie, Harveys Supermarket and Fresco y Más rewards programs will automatically receive relevant Booster offers through the store banners’ mobile apps. To use the Boosters, customers activate the offer within the app, complete the offer challenge and then receive the reward. Each offer will be available for a limited time, with the expiration date indicated, and offers will change based on the challenge, according to SEG. For example, a Winn-Dixie rewards member might get a Booster offer challenge to buy four bags of store-brand chips in July to receive 1,000 rewards points to apply to future savings. After activating the Booster and completing the required purchase in the designated time frame, the customer receives a barcode to scan at checkout to earn the reward Booster points"...
 

Analyst: Shipt Gives Target Competitive Edge
Yahoo Finance: "With shoppers demanding their digitally placed orders faster than ever before because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Target deserves more love from Wall Street since it owns a same-day delivery service, argues Goldman Sachs. "We think Buy-rated Target is best positioned given it is the only retailer that owns its own platform (Shipt), which reduces some cost pressures and minimizes the barrier on data sharing," said Goldman Sachs retail analyst Kate McShane in a new research note. Continued McShane, "Third-party providers are offering an important solution for same day needs and is a more profitable option than overnight delivery, but overall proportion of sales remains small for retailers, noting many recently launched the option over the past year and alternative solutions (e.g., curbside/drive-up) have grown faster. While third-party partners enable retailers to rapidly adopt same day delivery services without the upfront costs and time commitment needed for a custom-built solution, we also recognize the margin impact and reduced control over customer data by the retailers""...
 

Retailers, Restaurants Losing Workers Due to Low Pay, Scary Customers
Insider: "Some workers are leaving retail and restaurant jobs to get away from low pay and difficult customers, and a growing number of openings in the labor market is making it easier to transition to new careers. Restaurants and stores are looking to staff up and return to normal as COVID-19 restrictions lift and the country slowly reopens. Hiring has been difficult for many companies, which have reported a lack of candidates for open positions. But retail and restaurants are are also struggling to retain workers who want to leave for new opportunities. That's making the sector's labor crunch even worse... The labor shortage in many sectors of the economy is a boon to some dissatisfied retail workers who are suddenly able to shop around for new jobs... The past year has exposed the massive demands put on retail workers, often for relatively low pay and few benefits, even as they were called heroes and essential workers. Tasked with enforcing mask mandates and interacting with customers during the height of a pandemic, abuse, harassment, and assault was not uncommon... A Starbucks manager says she is about to start a job in healthcare sales making double her current wage. She will also get better benefits. "It took me a literal day to find a better job," she said. The final straw for leaving the job, she said, was realizing how her pay compared to the increasingly pricey drinks Starbucks sells. "The thing that really radicalized me was that our starting wage ($9) is less than one average customer's ticket," she told Insider... In place of customer-facing retail jobs, some workers are turning to warehouse employment with companies like Amazon, even as those jobs make headlines for poor conditions. The e-commerce giant has hired about 2,800 people a day since July, mostly in warehouse roles"...
 
Insider (paywall)

Analyst: Shipt Gives Target Competitive Edge
Yahoo Finance: "With shoppers demanding their digitally placed orders faster than ever before because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Target deserves more love from Wall Street since it owns a same-day delivery service, argues Goldman Sachs. "We think Buy-rated Target is best positioned given it is the only retailer that owns its own platform (Shipt), which reduces some cost pressures and minimizes the barrier on data sharing," said Goldman Sachs retail analyst Kate McShane in a new research note. Continued McShane, "Third-party providers are offering an important solution for same day needs and is a more profitable option than overnight delivery, but overall proportion of sales remains small for retailers, noting many recently launched the option over the past year and alternative solutions (e.g., curbside/drive-up) have grown faster. While third-party partners enable retailers to rapidly adopt same day delivery services without the upfront costs and time commitment needed for a custom-built solution, we also recognize the margin impact and reduced control over customer data by the retailers""...
 

OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:





 
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