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May 17, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:17am

British GQ editor Dylan Jones leaves after 22 years amid Conde Nast global teams merger

By Charlotte Tobitt

British GQ editor Dylan Jones is leaving the men’s lifestyle magazine after 22 years at the helm.

GQ publisher Conde Nast is merging its editorial teams in the US and the rest of the world under a new global digital-first content strategy.

The publisher has yet to confirm the number of likely redundancies as a result, but Press Gazette understands Jones (pictured) is the most high-profile name expected to depart in the UK.

GQ will be led globally by American GQ editor Will Welch while Adam Baidawi, previously editor of GQ Middle East, has been named as his deputy and will move to London to take up the role. The brand currently has about 20 international editions.

The August 2021 issue of British GQ will be the last under Jones’ editorship, which he has held since 1999.

He said in a statement: “I have had such a brilliant time working for Conde Nast these last 22 years. It has been one of the most rewarding professional adventures of my career, and it has been one hell of a ride.

“I am hugely, immensely proud of the fantastic team I have been lucky enough to build around me, a team that has won 80 awards, more than any other magazine in the country. There is no greater recognition of journalistic integrity.”

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Jones said he was leaving GQ in “extremely rude health”. It had the biggest average circulation among men’s magazines in 2020 – 95,298 – 59% of which (52,382) were actively purchased in the UK and Ireland (as opposed to bulk sales or free copies).

In 2000, shortly after Jones’ appointment as editor, the magazine’s total print circulation was 138,177, of which 125,854 were single copy newsstand or subscription sales.

Jones said the brand reaches more than 5m readers on its website each month. He also claimed GQ had been the only brand to successfully pivot all its events to digital last year.

[Read more: Future of events has hybrid as buzzword as Covid costs UK publishers £2bn]

During Jones’ tenure, British GQ created the modern version of its Men Of The Year Awards, launched the weekly digital magazine GQ Hype and fashion magazine GQ Style. Other events and brands to have been launched include the GQ Heroes summit, GQ Best Dressed List, GQ Food & Drink Awards, GQ Car Awards, GQ Comedy Evening, and GQ Grooming Awards.

Jones added: “I’d like to thank all the writers, photographers and editors who, for the last two decades, have made British GQ one of the most talked-about magazines in the world, a magazine that didn’t just capture the zeitgeist – it created it.

“I want to thank all the readers who came with us on our journey, as well as all of my brilliant publishing directors, and our simply extraordinary events team. But most of all I’d like to thank my amazing editorial team. All I can see in front of them is a series of green lights.”

Before joining GQ, where he was named Editor of the Year a record nine times at the British Society of Magazine Editors Awards, Jones held various positions at The Sunday Times and oversaw The Face, Arena and Frank as group editor at Wagadon.

In his first few years leading GQ he signed up a number of broadsheet writers to help it become renowned for its journalism, introduced an interiors section and threw out the laddish elements. Jones told Press Gazette in 2014 the “joke wore thin” on lads’ mags.

“I think for 18 months in the mid-90s ‘new lad’ culture was very funny – incredibly vibrant, it chimed with Brit Pop, it chimed with that whole sort of art movement. It was very exciting, but cultures change, people move on, and people grow up.”

In 2018 he said there had been a “genuine sea change” in the magazine industry, with “people realising that if you want quality journalism, you have to pay for it and you have to seek it out”.

Conde Nast told UK staff last month its plan to merge editorial teams around the world would affect editorial and commercial staff at Vogue, Conde Nast Traveller and GQ and mean some staff would have to reapply for their roles under the new structure. The consultation process is due to end next week.

[Read more: Conde Nast jobs at risk amid strategy to merge global editorial teams]

Also involved in this first stage of the five-year strategy are Wired UK, where no jobs are at risk because it is a smaller team already, and Architectural Digest which does not have a UK base.

Welch and Baidawi have co-signed a letter alongside Conde Nast’s other newly-appointed global editorial leads and deputies – Anna Wintour and Edward Enninful at Vogue, Gideon Lichfield at Wired, Divia Thani and Jesse Ashlock at Conde Nast Traveler and Amy Astley and Oliver Jahn at Architectural Digest – in which they shared their “collective vision” for the future.

They said their brands have previously worked in “self-defeating” silos that competed against each other and that working together “can actually mean bigger gets, bigger scoops, and more groundbreaking storytelling”.

They added that the past year of the pandemic has shown how operations can be “more decentralised, more democratic, open to more voices than we’ve been in the past”. Their goal is “to be a more 21st-century media company, and a more community-minded one as well” with local stories given wider distribution.

Conde Nast is aiming for double-digit revenue growth in 2021 and has said it intends to increase investment in content, including in video products, events and experiences, by 25% over the next four years.

A Conde Nast spokesperson previously said: “As we continue to bring together our European business and transform our global operations, we are entering into a collective consultation process to evolve some of our teams, roles and capabilities. We are fully committed to supporting employees during this time.”

Picture: Richard Young/REX

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