Gruner + Jahr (Germany)

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Gruner + Jahr is Europe's largest magazine publisher, with a portfolio of more than 300 periodicals spread across 20 countries, mainly in continental Europe. It is now wholly owned by German media giant Bertelsmann (which bought out the Jahr family's long-standing 25% shareholding in 2014). G+J's most significant operations are in Germany, where titles include Stern, Gala and Brigitte, and in France, where subsidiary Prisma Media is now that country's biggest magazine publisher. Brands include Voici, Gala and Femme Actuelle. Gruner & Jahr was one of the pioneers within Europe of multi-market brands, having successfully rolled out several of its key titles into a series of local markets. These include the science title Geo, women's magazine Gala, business magazine Capital and National Geographic. Motorpresse Stuttgart, publisher of Auto Motor und Sport and other titles, was sold in 2019. Among the group's comparatively rare failures was its inability to establish a solid presence in English-speaking markets. It quit the UK in 2000, and closed down operations in the US in 2005. In fact, performance had been mixed for several years in the 2000s, resulting in the abrupt departure of CEO Bernd Buchholz in summer 2012. Group publisher Julia Jaekel was promoted to the position of president. Since then, G+J has cut back on several other international territories as well to focus its attention on the core domestic market and France, which together now account for almost 87% of revenues. G+J called it quits in Italy in 2015, followed by Spain and Austria in 2016, and the Netherlands and China in 2017. Reflecting the continuing steady decline in the global magazine sector, and G+J's gradual retrenchment, revenues have been in slow decline for several years, falling to €1.36bn for 2019. The group has increasingly turned its attention towards creation of bespoke content and social media development for third-party clients, through the launch of dedicated unit Territory. This also operates marketing agency Honey in a joint venture with Kolle Rebbe.

Capsule checked 13th April 2018

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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Jul 2016: With its traditional magazine business in slow but steady decline, German group Gruner & Jahr, a division of Bertelsmann, is pushing aggressively into new areas of what it calls "content creation". In May it launched a dedicated unit under the name Territory to offer below-the-line services including sales promotion, employer marketing and digital development. However, the most significant development is the acquisition this week of acclaimed German social media and mobile agency Webguerillas for an undisclosed sum. Clients include Deutsche Telekom, Mondelez, Google and the retailers Hornbach and Saturn. Founder David Eicher will remain with the business, which will adopt the Territory name.

Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Oct 2014: European media giant Bertelsmann has taken full control of its magazine publishing subsidiary Gruner+Jahr, buying out the Jahr family's remaining 25% stake. Bertelsmann first acquired a stake in the business in the late 1960s, building up its holding to 75% by 1976. The Jahr family is thought to have been considering an exit for several years following weak performance and disagreements over the future of the business. That led to the abrupt departure of G+J's CEO in 2012. Though the company no longer has operations in the UK or US, it remains a major force in Germany, France and several other European markets.

Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Sep 2013: Europe's largest magazine publisher Gruner+Jahr, controlled by Bertelsmann, announced a full strategic overhaul in which it pledged to transform itself "from a magazine house into a house of content". CEO Julia Jaeckel said G+J's shareholders had pledged to invest "several hundred million Euros" to expand digital operations and acquire other businesses. At the same time it will reorganise its portfolio, including brands such as Stern, Brigitte and Auto-Motor und Sport, into eight so-called "communities of interest". 

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