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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

RBI's Jones says, "Dont Panic!"

The Summer holidays are well and truly over. Last week Emap started a senior management cull. Incisive Media got broken in two and now RBI declares a further round of urgent cost savings.

Global CEO Keith Jones, may have been lying on a sunbed somewhere hot and sandy, dozing after a good lunch when he suddenly sat up with a jolt of realisation that his business has more costs than it can live with.

Most people have thought that RBI has rather too much management rather than too little. Too many layers slow up decisionmaking and discourage risk taking. We might exepct some meaningful attempt to correct this. Jones says in his note to staff that, in terms, he has run out of patience with duplicate costs. I guess, in code that means, if you are a manager who eports to someone who reports to someoone who reports to someone who makes a decision, some of the people in the middle are going to be in the queue for a pink slip.

Jones also says that profits must grow by at least the rate of inflation. That means, whatever the rate of inflation, in real terms no growth at all. He also has an ambition to get 50% of his revenues from online. He can achieve this in two ways. WAit for the magazines to die off, or make some brave and radical decisions. His demeanour says he is ready to do this. He has had nine months to think about the plan. He might not have declared it all yet - but a plan he will surely have.

For RBI employees, who have strong union reps and don't much like change, this will be scary. The right choice for them all is to embrace change and not to shun it.

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At 4:10 pm, Blogger Linotype said...

The target of 50% of revenue from the wed sounds ambitious but surely shareholders would prefer 50% of profits.

Also, the web is fine but there is no mention of whether RBI will concentrate on paid for web sites rather than the free "community" sites.

No mention either of selling of some of the titles, following Travel Weekly.

There are plenty of potential buyers,and a number of RBI titles that would flourish in a smaller business without the the dead hand of too many publishers and administration.

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