Bauer Media Group is splitting its print and digital businesses, merging its international digital operations into one unit for the first time and moving away from a localised structure.
Amid the upcoming changes Chris Duncan, CEO for Bauer’s UK publishing business, has decided to step down after four years later this year.
He will be succeeded by two co-CEOs leading Bauer’s UK print business while a new international management team will lead digital operations across Germany, the UK, France and Poland.
Jan Wachtel, president of Bauer Media Group’s global publishing business, said: “Due to our localised structure, we are currently not making full use of our digital expertise. By merging the divisions, we will unlock new opportunities and better utilise Bauer Media Group’s international scale.”
Wachtel added that Duncan “has been an invaluable member of the global publishing leadership team and been a key contributor to the development of the strategy for our business”.
Duncan, previously MD of Times Newspapers, led all of Bauer’s print and digital publishing operations in the UK. The publisher said he had helped it “maintained its position as the UK’s bigger consumer magazine publisher and continued to build its reputation for delivering meaningful content to its readers across a variety of sectors and interests”.
Duncan said that over the past year he, Wachtel and other leaders within the business have been collaborating closely “to define the best strategy for the future of our publishing business in the UK and internationally”.
New co-CEOs to lead Bauer UK print business
Bauer’s magazine brands in the UK include Empire, Closer, Bella, Car, Grazia, Heat, Take a Break, That’s Life!, TV Choice, and Yours.
The print brands will now be led by Helen Morris and Steve Prentice, who have both been promoted from their roles as UK group managing directors to take over from Duncan later this year.
Morris, who has been leading Bauer’s UK lifestyle and entertainment brands, will have overall responsibility for content and editorial. Prentice, who has been leading the special interest and puzzle brands since June 2021, will take responsibility for operations including advertising, sales management and print production.
Wachtel said they were “the ideal candidates to lead our print operations in the UK into the next phase. In Helen and Steve, we have a leadership duo that understand perfectly how to establish the right conditions to continue to deliver products that meet the expectations of our readers.”
Bauer hires ‘best experts’ in German publishing to ‘build successful digital business’
Internationally, Bauer’s “ambitious” growth plans in digital will be led by three new executives joining the company with high-level experience at German publishers.
Stefan Betzold is joining this month as chief product marketing officer and will be responsible for monetising digital reach, introducing new digital business models and expanding profitability and turnover. Betzold joins from real estate agency Evernest which he co-founded in 2021, while he was previously managing director of Axel Springer overseeing its digital media businesses in Germany.
Also joining this month, Jan Rudolph will be chief content officer digital, “primarily responsible for expanding and optimally addressing digital target groups through customised content”. Rudolph’s previous roles include editor-in-chief of digital media at Weka Media Publishing, a consultant for several titles at Hubert Burda Media, and senior vice president of publishing and content distribution, meaning he was responsible for digital journalism products, at RTL Deutschland.
Writing on Linkedin, Rudolph said the job was “an opportunity to dive deep into the heart of digital transformation at this international successful media company”.
Explaining the new digital set-up, he said: “One of our key objectives is to unify all digital teams under a single vision. By fostering collaboration and leveraging the unique strengths of each team, we aim to create a more cohesive, efficient, and dynamic digital ecosystem. This unified approach will enable us to deliver exceptional content, drive engagement, and establish stronger connections with our audiences.”
Finally Walther Steinhuber will join as chief product and technology officer in April, making him responsible for the digital platform that will ultimately consolidate all Bauer’s digital products. Steinhuber is currently managing director at Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien and he has also worked at various management roles at Axel Springer between 2009 and 2015.
Wachtel said: “It is a significant achievement to have attracted these three top executives, a clear indication of our appeal in the industry. They are the best experts to build a successful digital business in publishing.”
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