Condé Nast editor-in-chief has said the revamped magazine publisher is poised to return to its peak of profitability and influence as the world enters the “roaring twenties” of post-pandemic indulgence.
Dame Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue and all-powerful figure in the fashion industry, told the Financial Times that ‘lines around the block’ at reopened Gucci and Dior stores in London showed pent-up demand for the style of luxury life that Condé Nast titles have long chronicled.
“People have been locked up for a long time and they’re going to go out and want to spend. They are going to want to travel. . . to dress, ”Wintour said in a rare interview.
“I don’t think it’s about being old-fashioned, but enjoying all that life has to offer. It is wrong to think of Condé Nast as an elitist company; we are a company that believes in quality and the best storytelling. “
Wintour is at the center of a heartbreaking magazine publisher overhaul, which attempts to bring together disparate editorial operations across the globe, expand its digital business as print advertising shrinks, and respond to massive calls for more. diversity in its workforce and content.
Having dominated the pre-internet era with the zeitgeist magazines that made celebrity publishers like Wintour, Condé Nast is counting on less secure business prospects as entertainment has drifted online, often for free. .
The billionaire Newhouse family that owns the group in 2019 ousted its chief executive, merged its US and international operations, and called on its first outsider, Roger Lynch, to guide the century-old publisher into the future.
“It’s a new day for the company,” said Wintour, explaining how the group would consolidate the editorial teams, a process that began with her recent promotion to director of content, putting her in charge of everything. Condé Nast brands around the world.
Speaking on Zoom alongside five other Condé Nast executives located in London, Paris, Dubai, New York and Taipei, Wintour described it as the transformation of a vast editorial network that, for Vogue alone, s ‘spanned 27 separate editions. “We were certainly all very collegial. . . but we did not collaborate, ”she said.
Examples of the new approach include relying more on local newsrooms to cover London, Paris or Milan fashion weeks, or coordinating offers for celebrity interviews, with content being then shared between editions.
Adam Baidawi, deputy editorial director of GQ, said “a lot of time” was wasted before “competing for global stories with the same celebrities and designer interviews.” A more unified approach would also give local journalism a larger global audience, he said.
The company behind Vogue and The New Yorker, which is privately held and does not publish accounts, has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years due to the decline in print advertising.
Although this year is also in deficit, the company expects to break even in 2022 and achieve double-digit operating profit margins by 2024, according to people familiar with the matter.
Wintour said Condé Nast would “definitely” return to the profitability levels of his old bonus. “We are already seeing tremendous growth,” she said, citing e-commerce sales of titles like Architectural Digest during the pandemic, as well as the commercial promise of videos and events for members.
Condé Nast was criticized last year over allegations of racial discrimination and pay inequity in Bon Appétit, his cooking title. The controversy has captured a broader struggle within the group, which rose to power by selling a luxury lifestyle, to remain relevant during a devastating pandemic and industry-wide take on breed. and inequalities.
More recently, the hiring of journalist Alexi McCammond as editor of Teen Vogue sparked further turmoil, after the racist and homophobic tweets she made in 2011 resurfaced. McCammond resigned last month, just days before starting work.
Wintour declined to comment on Teen Vogue, but pointed to Condé Nast’s progress on diversity in hiring and content. “Like other companies, we have had to look inward over the past year and learn from what has happened,” said Wintour.
Last year, Condé Nast hired its very first Diversity and Inclusion Manager, and 50% of applicants for new jobs at the company must now come from under-represented and diverse backgrounds. Among Condé Nast’s management team, 30 percent of the group is LGBTQ and 30 percent are from various ethnic backgrounds.
“You can give shine, but you can also give something real and local that resonates,” said Edward Enninful, European editorial director of Vogue, highlighting a cover of Vogue last year featuring essential workers. . “We’ve been locked up for a long time, and now we’re in a new world, and we all have to face the moment with our stories.”
Asked about her own future at Condé Nast, where she has worked since the 1980s, Wintour, 71, objected. “I really really enjoy the process and work very closely with Edward and everyone,” she said. “Right now, I’m focusing on tomorrow rather than five years from now.”