Torstar closes Torstar Digital, distributes operations
September 06, 2013 | Chris Powell | Comments
Torstar Corporation has undertaken a “reorganization” of its operations, shuttering TorStar Digital and distributing its associated properties among its Metroland, Star Media Group and Torstar corporate divisions.
Torstar Digital’s Olive Media unit will now report into Star Media Group, while daily deal site WagJag will report into Metroland Media Group (headed by Ian Oliver). Other operations such as eyeReturn Marketing and Workopolis will report into Torstar corporate. No digital properties have been closed as a result of the reorganization, said Torstar spokesperson Bob Hepburn.
“Our commitment to digital is as strong as ever,” said Hepburn. “The move was done for organizational efficiencies. It’s a simplified structure and it better aligns with our business strategies.”
Torstar Digital president Chris Goodridge moves to Torstar, assuming the newly created role of senior vice-president, digital ventures. He will oversee eyeReturn, Torstar’s interests in Workopolis and other non-wholly owned ventures such as the Quebec-based group buying site Tuango.
Hepburn said there has been a “slight reduction” in staff among Torstar Digital’s approximately 195 employees.
About half of the 10 impacted employees were let go on Thursday, while the remaining employees will stay on through Sept. 30 to assist in the transition, said Hepburn.
Torstar will maintain its lease on Torstar Digital’s Toronto headquarters in the near-term, but will review its options going forward. “There’s 190 people to consider, and you can’t just move them all in one big block,” said Hepburn.
Hepburn said that the reorganization was undertaken to create “operational efficiencies” for Torstar. “We do expect some savings,” he said. “[But] we just think the operations will operate more efficiently and effectively for the entire company.
“This isn’t a matter of [laying off] a huge number of people to save money.”
Torstar said that its digital profitability increased during the second quarter and the first six months of 2013, despite digital revenue declines of 10.1% in the second quarter and 7.8% on a year-to-date basis. Torstar attributed the results to lower revenues at Wagjag, which were offset by growth in other digital divisions.
Digital accounted for 10.9% of Torstar’s media segment revenues in the first quarter and 11.1% for the first six months of 2013, compared to 11.1% for the corresponding year-earlier periods.
“We think digital’s got a great future,” said Hepburn. “We believe these operations are good and we can grow them in the future. In terms of our long-term strategies, we just think this is a better way to move forward.”