Bauer Media to close BauerWorks, with GM Eugene Varricchio to depart

Bauer Media has announced a major reshuffle to its executive line-up and the closure of its custom publishing arm – the first big announcement for the embattled publisher since Paul Dykzeul took over from Nick Chan as CEO.

BauerWorks will be “integrated into various parts of the Bauer Media business”, according to a release, with director of operations and general manager Eugene Varricchio to depart Bauer as part of the changes at the end of September. 

Bauer Custom Media was rebranded to BauerWorks back in 2015 to “better reflect the multi-channel content marketing solutions ” it was offering. It sat independently of Bauer’s consumer divisions and primarily focused on clients’ owned media channels. It operated in an agency-style model which offered commercial partners the services of full in-house strategy, creative and client management teams, with the potential to amplify content through Bauer Media branded channels in partnership with the company’s digital network, Bauer Xcel.

The closure of BauerWorks and the executive shuffle comes just under two months after Chan left the company, and in the same week the publisher found out it will have to pay Rebel Wilson $4.5m thanks to her defamation win over a series of articles which painted her as a serial liar.

The company will now have two general managers of publishing, with Jayne Ferguson maintaining the title and Fiorella Di Santo, who was previously sales director, also stepping into the position.

Ferguson will “continue to set the strategic direction for the company across Bauer Media’s lifestyle and celebrity categories” and will be responsible for 11 brands including The Australian Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day and TV Week.

Di Santo will have the same job title, but will be responsible for Bauer Media’s fashion, luxury, food and home categories.

Bauer’s digital division, Bauer Xcel, will continue to be led by Christian Fricke. He is “focused on growing and strengthening Bauer Media’s digital platforms, including Beauty Heaven and the Now To Love Network, but he will now also lead Bauer Labs – the company’s creative platform.

The company’s chief financial office Andrew Stedwell keeps his job in the shake-up, but adds distribution, retail and circulation to his responsibilities.

Dykzeul: Bauer is facing some challenges

Paul Gardiner will also take on increased responsibilities, moving up from commercial director New Zealand to commercial director Australia. He will now lead advertising sales and creative services in the Australian market.

John Hanna is also taking on an expanded remit, adding production, building and photo studios to the list of his responsibilities while maintaining his role as chief information officer.

Adrian Goss will join the executive team in his ongoing role as legal counsel, while Kelly Young remains as director of people and culture, and Terry Williams-King holds onto the group general manager, trade gig.

All executive team members will report into Dykzuel. Two non-executives will also report to Dykzuel: Jo Runciman, the company’s publisher for books, food studio and parenting, and Cornelia Schulze, general manager publisher.

Varricchio will depart at the end of September, but all other changes are effective from the first week of October.

Varricchio issued a short statement about his departure: “I’m proud to have had the opportunity to be part of the executive team and help build and transition Bauer Media over the years. I achieved the goals that we set and now is the perfect time to take on a new challenge.”

Dykzeul said the changes were necessary as the business faced numerous challenges and sought to find more efficiencies.

“We have a fantastic business. Bauer Media’s magazine titles are some of the most iconic media brands in the country, which have been engaging readers for generations. We sell a lot of magazines week after week, reaching more than 85% of Australian women. Our readers pay for our content at a time when they can access a vast amount of media for free,” he said.

He said the refreshed executive team would enable the company to compete in the future and noted it needed to improve its existing magazine model, find new ideas and implement different strategies in order to grow.

“As an organisation, we need to be nimble in order to keep up with the rapid pace of change across the media industry. We are creating an environment where new ideas generated from all corners of the business can be brought to life.”

Dykzeul ended the announcement optimistically, saying: “I believe there’s a fabulous future for the Bauer Media business and the people within it.”


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