April 3, 2012

Publishing News

Fairchild Fashion Media Sells Book Division to Bloomsbury
Fairchild Fashion, the Conde Nast group that publishes WWD, Style.com and other trade publications, has sold Fairchild Books to Bloomsbury Publishing’s U.S. division for $6.5M. Books division publishes textbooks, educational resources for students in fashion, merchandising, retailing, interior design. 2011 revenues totaled $7.5M and before-tax net profits were $706,000. Sale being positioned as opportunity for Fairchild to focus on its trade magazine titles and associated digital assets. 

Magazines Race to Capitalize on Pinterest
Why are all of the major magazine publishers focused on leveraging Pinterest, particularly for women’s and home brands? Pinterest users are predominantly female, 25-44, and educated, and the most popular topic areas are home, arts/crafts, style/fashion and food–perfect fits with many titles’ editorial missions. Ad Age details specific magazine brands’ efforts on Pinterest and the promising results. Separately, a PriceGrabber survey finds that 21% of Pinterest users have purchased a product after seeing a photo on the site. 33% report purchasing food/cooking items, 32% fashion/clothing, 30% home decorating, 26% crafts. 

Ad Age (magazines and Pinterest)
MediaPost  (users’ purchasing tendencies)

Conde Nast Expected to Move to 1 World Trade Center Next Year
The company has signed a tentative agreement to occupy the northwest corner of the 16-acre site in 2013. Building’s construction has now reached 100 floors, just four floors short of becoming NYC’s tallest building.

Meredith Video Studios Launches Home/Garden YouTube Channel
Meredith’s original programming development and production unit will launch a YouTube channel, dubbed “Digs,” in early 2012. The channel will launch with seven original series–home and garden programming “with an attitude,” in Meredith’s description. Each episode to be four to five minutes long. Example: “Jordan in the House” show will star Jordan Reid, a modern-day “domestic queen” of decorating and entertaining who records every move she makes in her hit blog.

Retail News

Meat Processor AFA Foods Files for Bankruptcy 
AFA, which processes ground-beef products representing 2% of total U.S. beef production (its products are sold by Wal-Mart and several major QSR chains), has filed for bankruptcy protection, citing a dramatic decline in the demand for all beef products since the “pink slime” controversy broke out. Says under 10% of its products contain the filler, but crisis hit at a time it was depending on a sales rebound to help it return to profitability. Believes use of the filler will shrink to virtually zero. AFA suspending California facility operations this week, but will continue operating Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania plants with $56M in secured bankruptcy financing. Separately, some PR experts–and ‘supermarket guru’ Phil Lempert–maintain that, however unfounded consumers’ fears about lean, finely textured beef, industry and government attempts to counter the “gross-out” power of the “pink slime” moniker are “too little, too late.” Lempert tells WSJ and Ad Age that “the fight is over,” and beef industry should focus on experimenting with other types of filler.
WSJ  (AFA and controversy overview)  
Ad Age  (PR crisis)

Regional Chains Head Consumer Reports’ Customer Service Survey
Wegmans is top-rated supermarket in the consumer survey, followed by Trader’s Joe’s, Publix, Fareway, Costco, Harris Teeter, Demoulas Market Basket, Raley’s, Hy-Vee and Stater Bros. All but Costco, Trader Joe’s are regionals; all but Costco got highest possible scores on service (employee courtesy and checkout speed).
Big Y Foods Pioneers Online Mall Concept
Rolls out online shopping mall, Big Y Marketplace, as part of revamped site. Members of its premium loyalty club can browse 150 non-foods retailers/brands that are affiliates in program, earn rewards points for purchases made through those sites.  
Progressive Grocer

Sacramento, South Florida Seeing Increasingly Intense Competition
SN reports that Raley’s, Safeway and Save Mart are feeling the heat, with Sprouts and Fresh & Easy already having opened sites in Sacramento, and Walmart Neighborhood Markets and The Fresh Market on the way. Similarly, Sun-Sentinel reports growing number of upscale and specialty entrants competing with conventional formats in South Florida’s Palm Beach, Broward counties. 
Supemarket News (Sacramento)
Sun-Sentinel (South Florida)

Status Update: E-Book Pricing Class Action Suit
PW reports that Apple filed motion to dismiss suit based on argument that it should not be lumped in with the publishers named, because its business needs were/are different than publishers’, and it had no motive to coordinate with publishers or protect the book-selling market. Law firm for the action, Hagens Berman, opposed defendants’ motions to dismiss, arguing that raising of e-book prices was done in “three coordinated steps.” Separately from motion to dismiss, Penguin filed a motion asking the court to make members of the class action lawsuit who bought e-books from Amazon and BN.com move directly to arbitration to resolve that matter and stay the court proceedings. Hagens Berman also opposed that motion; Penguin has until April 13 to file its response. 

Coupon Distribution Down, Redemption Up
2011′s 305B CPG coupons distributed in U.S. represented 8.1% drop vs. 2010, reports NCH Marketing Services. Whole decline due to grocery (coupons -13.1%); health/beauty stable. Total redemption value up to $4.6B. Redemption periods down (10.2 weeks on average for grocery; 9.6 weeks for HBC); multiple-item purchase requirement up 2 points, to 27%. Average grocery coupon value down 3 cents, to $1.17.  

Operators Struggle with Acquired A&Ps
Village Super Markets and Natural Market Restaurant Group, which teamed to acquire 10 A&P SuperFresh sites in Maryland, have each encountered hurdles in trying to build stores’ business under new banners. 

Q&A With Winn-Dixie/Bi-Lo Chief 
CEO Randall Onstead Jr. says that in Texas, chain still has ample room for growth in Houston market (one of most competitive in the U.S.), although he doesn’t rule out eventual expansion to other Texas markets. Stresses that mandate to give customers what they want, whether value, right product or location, is the key to the business.  

FDA Rejects Ban of BPA; White House, FDA Often at Odds
The FDA last week rejected a request from the Natural Resources Defense Council to ban bisphenol A (BPA) from cans and other packaging at this time, saying the evidence of potential harm to humans presented was insufficient. The agency is awaiting results of federal studies now in progress. Separately, NYT reports that the Obama administration and FDA are often at odds. The administration has bolstered the FDA’s budget and championed legislation strengthening the agency’s authority to regulate food and tobacco. But the president wants to carefully calibrate public policy decisions in an ever more politically charged climate, while FDA officials maintain that such decisions should be divorced from politics and based solely on scientific findings.
Bloomberg (BPA)   
NY Times  (at odds)

Target Names New CMO
Target’s new VP, chief marketing officer is Jeff Jones, most recently president of North Carolina-based indie agency McKinney. Jones replaces Michael Francis, who left to join JC Penney last year. 


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