'A new Future business is taking shape' - new CEO Wood

Michael French
'A new Future business is taking shape' - new CEO Wood

Future's new CEO Mark Wood predicts the company will be quite different once it is 'transition to a digital business model' is complete.

In his statement published with today's full-year results - 'disappointing' numbers that show the US business dragging down UK performance - he said that Future sees opportunity in "new digital channels, such as the Apple iPad"

These are "rapidly opening up new routes to international markets in which our niche products can quickly build a loyal following".

"Instead of seeing our business constrained by geography and defined by separately focussed UK and US operations, we will now sell our entire range of high-quality content into the borderless digital markets opening up worldwide."

This morning the firm said it will combine its US and UK interests to create a 'global product line'.

In the fuller statement Wood says this will "accelerate our transition to a digital business model".

In actual fact, the firm will launch a US version of its Tech Radar site and more games-oriented digital products in the US.

"Future's previous silo structure meant we never realised the full potential of our high-value digital content outside the UK market," he said.

Wood took the CEO role just a few weeks ago following the resignation of former chief exec Stevie Spring.

His full statement reads:

"Future delivered disappointing results for the past year, in line with previous announcements. While the UK business showed resilience in challenging conditions, the US operations tipped back into loss, pulling down the Group's overall final results.

"However, over the same period, Future has become a leader among publishers in driving digital transformation. It is now well positioned for rapid expansion of its online and mobile businesses, which will be the drivers of the company's profit growth.

"We have taken swift action to reorganise the company, merging our UK and US operations, and creating a single global product line. These changes enable us to operate more efficiently and will get our US business back to profitability by FY13.

"These actions also mean that we can accelerate our transition to a digital business model. Instead of seeing our business constrained by geography and defined by separately focussed UK and US operations, we will now sell our entire range of high-quality content into the borderless digital markets opening up worldwide.

"Our aim is to see the US operation transformed from loss-maker, and the US market become one of the key drivers of profit growth from Future's current product line.

"The key to the change is that new digital channels, such as the Apple iPad, are rapidly opening up new routes to international markets in which our niche products can quickly build a loyal following. Future's success on the Apple Newsstand − with more than six million downloads of our apps in the month of launch alone − has demonstrated our ability to develop and deliver digital products at high speed. It also underlines the global appeal of our content, ranging from Cycling, Games and Technology to Music, Film and Digital Design.

"Meanwhile, digital advertising revenues from websites and mobile devices are showing strong and sustainable growth.

"A new Future business is taking shape and we have the content, products and skills to make it a success."

On the new digital and global plans, he offered:

"The spread of broadband connections and proliferation of tablet devices are opening up entirely new digital markets for fast-moving content producers. For Future, this is a golden opportunity. Niche content businesses can flourish in this environment. Suddenly we can deliver content to enthusiasts in places we could never reach when restricted by the need to print, ship and deliver physical magazines. Those audiences may be cyclists in the US, Linux programmers in Korea or rock music fans in Japan.

"Future's previous silo structure meant we never realised the full potential of our high-value digital content outside the UK market. Yet we have clear evidence of how great that potential can be. Nearly a third of TechRadar's monthly seven million unique visitors are already in the US. We now plan to roll out a US-customised version of TechRadar as a high priority so that we can monetise that interest.

"Following that, we have immediate plans to expand our Games and Cycling digital businesses in the US and then look at Photography, Film, Music and Digital Design. Our new business model enables us to utilise our high-quality US commercial and editorial teams to manage a succession of product roll-outs in the coming months.

"Apple Newsstand statistics reveal Total Film, Fast Car, T3 and many of our Games and Music titles all have large global audiences. Some of our specialist B2B products, such as those aimed at the animation and web design industries, have far bigger audiences in the US and Asia than in the UK. Overall, more than 75% of our sales through Newsstand have come from outside the UK. These figures point the way for our business growth.

"We are an information and entertainment source in fast-growing markets. Future's products typically reach affluent enthusiasts who become loyal members of the communities around our magazines or digital offerings. We also provide valuable news and trusted advice to people seeking information to guide decision-making, whether that's about which film to go and see or what new smart-phone to buy.

"The common theme among all our audiences is that they are highly attractive to advertisers.

"As well as selling advertising around our content, we are also increasingly able to develop valuable commercial partnerships with retailers, generating transaction royalties or producing interactive advertising for our partners. Meanwhile, the in-house skills which have powered our digital growth are now driving our customer publishing business, Future Plus. Its UK and US operations are increasingly based around providing pioneering multi-platform content, products and services. Customers range from Best Buy and Coats & Clark in the US to Tesco, O2, Canon and Page & Moy in the UK."

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Tags: future , future publishing

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