Martha Stewart Living CEO Gersh To Step Down

Martha Stewart Living CEO Gersh To Step Down

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (NYSE:MSO) announced on Wednesday that Chief Executive Officer Lisa Gersh is leaving after less than a year in the role.

The executive joined the company in May 2011 as its president and COO; in July, she took over the CEO reins, replacing Charles Koppelman.

The company will begin looking for her replacement during an unidentified transition period by Gersh. In this time, the company is expected to focus on expanding its merchandising business, reported Reuters. In 2011, merchandising accounted for 22 percent of corporate revenue as publishing added 64 percent with the balance attributed to media businesses.

It has been a tough year for the company as it has struggled with profits at its publishing and broadcast units while trying to raise merchandising revenue.

In November, the company announced it would decrease its magazines and slash publishing jobs to instead focus on their digital efforts including video and content. Martha Stewart will cease publishing its monthly Everyday Food magazine as an independent publication and will occasionally include some content in its Martha Stewart Living magazine. Its Everyday Food content will now be available on the corporate website, a YouTube channel and a daily video newsletter, reported the Washington Post.

The company will also  try to sell its the magazine, Whole Living.

These changes, along with previously announced restructuring changes in its broadcast TV unit, will cut between $45 million to $47 million from annual operating costs.

Thanks to declining numbers at its publishing business and falling ad revenue, the company reported a bigger-than-expected third-quarter loss. In that period that ended Sept. 30, Martha Stewart Living incurred a $50.9 million loss. This compares to the previous year’s $9.7 million loss.

With the leadership news, the company is looking ahead to change.

From Wednesday’s corporate announcement of Gersh’s exit, Martha Stewart founder and non-executive chairman said:

“Our media businesses are now repositioned for the future and we are excited about the potential of our digital, mobile, video and print platforms. As one example, our digital business hit an all-time high of 8.3 million unique visitors in November. Building on this momentum, we are now increasing our capabilities in merchandising and plan to take full advantage of that opportunity for the benefit of our shareholders and all of our partners both at home and abroad. The rest of the board and I are grateful for Lisa’s leadership and thank her for the many contributions she has made to the company.”

After the news, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (NYSE:MSO) shares fell 9 percent to $2.35 on the New York Stock Exchange but it ticked back up later in the morning.

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