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Fashion publication Women’s Wear Daily handed out pink slips on Wednesday — just two months after its long-time owner, Penske Media, agreed to shell out $225 million to merge with the publisher of The Hollywood Reporter.
That deal, which attracted antitrust review because it would put three of four major Hollywood trade titles under one roof, has cleared muster from the Department of Justice and is expected to officially be finalized by the end of the month, sources said.
At least three WWD editorial staffers have been canned at the digital trade title as the fashion industry continues to get pummeled by the pandemic, which has consumers flocking to sweats instead of evening gowns, sources said. Retailers have also been hard hit, which has resulted in cuts to advertising and subscriptions.
“Well folks, it finally happened but still a shock,” tweeted one laid off staffer, Phoebe Bradford on Dec. 7. “Like so many folks in my industry the layoffs came for me too. It’s my last day of being the video producer at WWD. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified of what comes next.”
As The Post has previously reported, the publisher’s September deal to merge with MRC, the publisher of The Hollywood Reporter, is also expected to result in layoffs of about 50 non-editorial staffers of Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter and Vibe, which will be operated under a new entity called PMRC, controlled by Penske Media. The deal is expected to officially finalized at the end of this month.
Sources said the WWD cuts could be paving the way for PMC CEO Jay Penske, son of auto-racing kingpin Roger Penske, to pile up funds for PMRC, which will be 80 percent owned by Penske Media.
“It looks like Jay is raising money in one area and cutting in another,” a source said. “The fashion and retail industry has been devastated, and there’s not much investment going in WWD.”
But a company spokeswoman said the reductions were part of a restructuring that will ultimately not reduce headcount. “It’s business as usual at WWD and Fairchild, and no cuts to the business.”
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