NEW YORK Playboy Enterprises Inc.’s Christie Hefner said she would step down as chairman and CEO after 20 years in the job. Hefner will leave Feb. 1, 2009, and will remain a director.
The company said the board is looking for a successor and that it had named Jerome Kern, a board director, partner at Enki Strategic Advisors and president of Kern Consulting, to serve as interim nonexecutive chairman.
“Last month marked my 20th anniversary as CEO; just as this country is embracing change in the form of new leadership, I have decided that now is the time to make changes in my own life as well,” Hefner said in a news release.
Hefner, who became president of her father Hugh Hefner’s company in 1982, drove the company’s multimedia strategy, pushing it into cable, TV and the Internet while steering it away from noncore brand extensions. In 2006, she restructured the company with the magazine at the center and separate media and licensing arms in order to sell more advertising packages across the company’s print, online and TV platforms.
Her move to step down comes as the company faces a challenging economy. Earlier this fall, it shed 80 positions as its entertainment group revenues declined to $38.2 million in the third quarter from $49.6 million a year earlier and the publishing group lost $1.3 million.