Financial Times adapts to financial times

October 22, 2008

It looks like The Guardian was the first to report that the Financial Times would cut up to 60 jobs in its editorial library and managing editor’s office, as well as its advertising sales, finance, IT, conferences and marketing departments. The Guardian might have overplayed things a bit, as we hear no one has decided on final numbers and that plenty of cuts could come through leaving some jobs unfilled and various other humane means.

If the FT shed 60 non-newsroom employees, that would amount to a little under 4 percent of its total staff (1,600 positions, with about 550 in editorial). As FT chief John Ridding says in the memo, it’s streamlining, not fallout from the financial crisis. In that respect, as Ridding has told us, world economic pain has been good to the FT so far. Still, it probably won’t hurt to batten down the hatches before the advertising market starts taking on water.

Here’s the memo:

Dear All,

As I have said in our staff presentations and business updates we are continuously looking to streamline our organisation, to make it as efficient as possible and to adapt it to the rapidly changing media industry.

This has involved creating a global management structure, integrating print and online, and bringing our acquisitions more closely into the FT.

We are now assessing further steps in this process, including the creation of a single magazine production operation, increasing the integration of our personal finance operations, further integrating our advertising sales teams, and transferring a number of financial functions to our operation in Manila. As a result, about 60 existing positions may be affected. We will obviously try to manage this as carefully and sensitively as possible, and we will now be launching a period of consultation about the proposed changes. Anyone who might be affected will be contacted by their manager today.

As you will have seen from the recent Pearson trading statement (attached), we are continuing to perform well despite the challenging market conditions. Our circulation is strong, a tribute to the exceptional coverage by our editorial team, while the efforts and expertise of our commercial team continues to drive revenues. Sustained success, however, means we must continue to adapt to market and audience demands and to look for efficiencies. The measures we are considering are designed to achieve that.

I’ll keep you informed about progress.

All the best


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