InStyle Catalog Already Out

While cataloger Williams-Sonoma took the plunge into magazine publishing with the recent launch of Taste, fashion and entertainment magazine InStyle launched a catalog. But if you were not among the 750,000 people who received the 42-page book in October, you’re out of luck: parent company TIme Warner has already scrapped the venture.

InStyle.com president Ann Acierno initially told Catalog Age that the company launched the catalog to give InStyle readers a chance to buy some of the product that appeared in the magazine. “We’ve done research during the years, and we concluded that readers want to buy the product that we feature in our magazine,” she says. InStyle also planned to launch e-commerce on its Website in early 2001.

But only one month after launching the catalog, Time Warner’s People magazine group president, Ann Moore, announced that the InStyle parent company was canceling its retail plans. As of press time, Acierno had declined to comment on the reason for the company’s decision or its impact on the status of the catalog’s current operations and fulfillment obligations.

Spiegel Restructures at the Top Apparently 12 consecutive quarters of earnings improvements aren’t good enough for general merchandise cataloger Spiegel. Hamburg, Germany-based direct marketing giant Otto Versand, which owns a majority stake in The Spiegel Group, plans to install longtime executive and board member Martin Zaepfel (pronounced “zeffel”) next July as president/CEO. A Spiegel Group board member since 1996, Zaepfel is now Otto Versand’s director of marketing and advertising, based in Hamburg, but he will relocate to Spiegel’s Downers Grove, IL, headquarters by next summer.

Zaepfel will replace two Spiegel executives – Michael Moran and James Sievers – who have jointly held the position of office of the president for the past three years. Spiegel is eliminating the position of office of the president, says spokesperson Debbie Koopman. Moran and Sievers will retain their board seats at Spiegel, and Koopman adds that neither executive “has been asked to leave” the company. The Spiegel Group owns the Spiegel, Newport News, and Eddie Bauer catalogs, as well as the Bauer retail chain.

For Spiegel’s most recent quarter, ended Sept. 30, consolidated operating income was $43.6 million, up 76% from $24.7 million for the same period of 1999. But despite a nearly three-year run of profitability, the Spiegel board “felt the company could benefit from Zaepfel’s global retail experience,” Koopman says. She’s admittedly unclear as to why the company would want to upset what appears to be a winning formula for profitability, however.

Michael Otto, chairman of Otto Versand, said in a statement: “We are now at a point where we believe the company would benefit from Martin’s work experience with the Otto Group companies and his extensive global retailing knowledge, both of which will be critical to developing key [Spiegel] Group strategies to compete in an increasingly global marketplace.”

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