ACP Media has announced a restructuring plan to split the company's operations into three publishing divisions, with Paul Dykzeul and newly appointed publishers Fiona Lyon and Lisa Ralph taking the reins. Lyon, who joined ACP seven years ago as a key accounts manager and has more than 15 years’ media experience in New Zealand and the UK, has been promoted from marketing director and now heads the women’s lifestyle and men’s division (NEXT, CLEO, Good Health, FQ, Top Gear and FHM), while Ralph, who joined the company in 2006 and has 14 years’ experience in media, has been promoted from advertising director and will be responsible for the specialist magazines division (Metro, North & South, Home, Your Home & Garden, Taste, Kia Ora and Little Treasures, among others).
Dykzeul will remain as ACP's chief executive and will publish the flagship titles Woman’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly, and Lucky Break
Another key change to the business is the promotion of current general manager of sales Paul Gardiner to the position of commercial director. He will work closely with Dykzeul on generating new revenue streams and growth opportunities, including the development ACP's online strategy, particularly through the iPad (like that seen for North & South) and by figuring out how best to use its 50 percent stake in MSN NZ.
As is usually the case when structural changes are announced, plenty of suggestions have been made that is part of an exit/succession plan by Dykzeul, a man one media cad described as "the Helen Clark of ACP" because, before these changes, he was across absolutely everything. As far as he knows, he's not going anywhere. And while he wants to get involved in more charity work and perhaps pick up a directorship of two in the coming years, the 57 year old says he's still as hyperactive as ever and has plenty of life left in him yet (he also jokingly says he's deeply offended to be described as Helen Clark, just as she probably is to be connected to him).
"I really enjoy being back in New Zealand. I think every publisher in the country has almost gone through the perfect storm in the past few years, but we're in a very strong position as a company," he says (figures show ACP’s combined titles increased by more than 80,000 new readers compared to the previous year).
If anything, the structual changes simply free Dykzeul up to focus more on the future, rather than the present; the holistic, rather than the day to day. He says he was receiving 29 direct reports and, while it was always his intention to "put his fingerprints all over the business" when he arrived three years ago, he says some areas inevitably received more attention than others, so it's time they got some love too.
Traditionally, publishers have come from the editorial side of the business. But he says Lyon and Ralph's appointments reflect a modern way to drive commercial operations and also reflect the structural model used in Australia and particularly the UK.
"This new structure leaves good space around the editors to run their own titles. And now they are better able to receive and take advantage of business, market and consumer insights provided by their publishers," he says.
Despite looking outside the building for the appropriate people to fill these roles, he says he was pleased to learn that his existing staff were the best candidates and believes the new positions offer those within the company more opportunity to advance their careers.
It seems unlikely the structural changes will affect sales too much, however, because ACP has the scale to sell across these groups as it is (ACP magazines reach 2.9 million New Zealanders every year with three in every four female magazine readers choosing one of its titles).
The restructure, which Dykzeul says he has been playing around with for six to nine months, is supported by increased investment in an expanded research and insights team with several new internal appointments.