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After less than a year in the job, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia CEO Lisa Gersh will step down, the company said Wednesday.
A former NBCUniversal cable executive who was instrumental in NBCUni’s acquisition of The Weather Channel, Gersh joined MSLO as president and COO in May 2011. She became CEO in July, replacing Charles Koppleman (whom TV viewers know from the 2005 Martha Stewart iteration of NBC’s The Apprentice).
But the empire built by the homemaking icon has struggled with sinking profits at its publishing and broadcast divisions. It is in the midst of scaling back those businesses to focus more on digital and video opportunities — a move the company said will save up to $35 million annually, in part by cutting an undisclosed number of jobs.
MSLO is still seeking a buyer for its Whole Living magazine and will turn the Everyday Food magazine into an online publication with published supplements five times a year to be part of the company’s flagship magazine, Martha Stewart Living. The restructuring also includes previously announced partnerships with Hulu, AOL and FremantleMedia.
“Our media businesses are now repositioned for the future, and we are excited about the potential of our digital, mobile, video and print platforms,” founder and non-executive chairman Stewart said in a statement Wednesday.
Stewart touted “an all-time high of 8.3 million unique visitors in November.” “Building on this momentum,” she said, “we are now increasing our capabilities in merchandising and plan to take full advantage of that opportunity for the benefit of our shareholders and all of our partners both at home and abroad. The rest of the board and I are grateful for Lisa’s leadership and thank her for the many contributions she has made to the company.”
Gersh will remain in her post and as a member of the board of directors during an unspecified transition period, the company said.
“It has been an honor to lead this company with its iconic brands, loyal following and wealth of creative talent,” Gersh said. “With the restructuring of the media businesses complete and a strong team leading key financial and corporate functions, the company is on solid footing and positioned for growth. There is an exciting future ahead for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and I am committed to working with the board to ensure a smooth transition.”
Shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. fell 28 cents to $2.30 per share, the lowest level since March 2009.
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