Updated: What Does New CEO Parr Mean for HFMUS?

The top-level leadership changes that have been sweeping through the magazine industry have made their way to Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., the publisher of Elle and Woman’s Day.
The company, which just rebranded itself as HFMUS, appointed Steve Parr, a veteran publishing executive, as its new president and CEO, effective Oct. 1. He will replace Alain Lemarchand, who will return to HFMUS’s French parent Lagardère Active, leaving a legacy of restructuring and cost-cutting during his two years at the U.S. publishing unit.
In choosing an outsider as HFMUS’s next CEO (and in passing over the well-regarded evp/COO Philippe Guelton, a 7-year employee there who has oversight for the digital operations), Active CEO Didier Quillot is following other publishing companies like Time Inc. and Hearst that recently brought in outsiders to fill top leadership roles.
Lemarchand, who came from a non-media, financial background, sold off five of HFMUS’s male-aimed enthusiast titles and continued the shutdown of its struggling magazines.
He also tried to diversify the company’s digital revenue, appointing chief brand officers over the remaining women’s brands—a structure that raised eyebrows because it had editors reporting to business-side execs.
Parr, by contrast, has spent his career running media companies. Unlike Lemarchand, he also knows his way around the U.S. publishing world, having been president of Emap USA, Primedia Enthusiast Media, and most recently, Source Interlink Media.
“Clearly, in hiring Steve Parr, they intend to run the business in a day-to-day way with someone who is an expert in running magazines,” said Reed Phillips, managing partner at DeSilva & Phillips, a media investment bank.
Lemarchand’s departure and the hiring of a new CEO with a publishing operating background also could indicate that Active is finished restructuring and could tamp down recent speculation that HFMUS was looking for a publishing partner to help it exit the U.S. altogether.
Don’t discount that possibility altogether, though, Reed said. If the right deal came along, it’s always possible HFMUS could still jump ship.
In an announcement, Active pointed to Parr’s experience developing profitable multi-platform media properties and said his job would be to increase market share for all the brands, grow the company digitally and improve overall profitability.