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Time Inc.'s Woman of the Fiscal Year

July 20, 2002|CORIE BROWN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ann Moore made her mark at the world's largest magazine company by knowing the truth about consumer spending: Women do the shopping.

With that insight, Moore transformed People from a black and white grocery store magazine into a powerhouse brand with moneymaking spinoffs InStyle and Teen People and made herself the maven of what she calls women's newsmagazines.

And now, with her elevation Thursday to chairwoman and chief executive of Time Inc., AOL Time Warner Inc.'s powerful publishing empire, Moore becomes the maven of the entire magazine industry.

The highest-ranking woman in AOL Time Warner, Moore will command the world's largest publishing company--140 magazines with 298 million readers worldwide--with market-leading titles such as Time, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly.

Time Inc. has posted 10 consecutive years of earnings growth and is critical to the corporation's success. In fiscal 2001, Time Inc. contributed $4.8 billion of the $38 billion in total corporate revenue, with the division accounting for nearly 10% of the corporate profit, according to company figures.

Moore, 52, is all too aware of the challenge of maintaining this record amid the continuing slump in magazine advertising that saw sales fall 15% last year, according to analysts, and sales are expected to slide an additional 5% this year.

But if Moore is worried, she isn't letting on.

"I would have been fulfilled without it, but thrilled to have it," Moore said of her promotion. "My goal is to continue to grow Time Inc. My only hard problem is finding and maintaining the best people in the magazine business."

In many ways, the key to continued success is to maintain the status quo, she said, ticking off goals that include keeping costs down without short-changing readers.

"We're better than the competition, we do a better job ... we are completely consumer-focused," she said.

Moore replaces former Time Inc. Chairman Don Logan, who with HBO Chairman Jeff Bewkes has been promoted to AOL Time Warner group chairman as part of a management shake-up at the troubled media conglomerate.

She takes issue with those who describe her management style as "brash." In fact, Moore said, she works hard at being collegial and prefers to find solutions by hashing out difficulties at staff meetings instead of behind closed doors.

"I'm a lot of things, but I'm not brash," she said. She allowed only that she is more outgoing than her predecessor, Logan. "He plays it more close to the vest. I like brainstorming with my direct reports."

Moore started in the finance department at Time Inc. in 1978, straight out of Harvard Business School. She quickly moved to Sports Illustrated, where she worked for 10 years before moving to People in 1991.

"Nobody else wanted the People job," said Moore, adding that critics thought the magazine had no growth potential. The breakthrough concept that turned that around, Moore said, was positioning People as a women's newsmagazine.

"That led us to all sorts of crazy decisions," she said, noting that she quickly went to color pictures and shifted from a Monday delivery to Friday, when more women would see the fresh issue in the grocery store checkout line as they do the weekly shopping.

Moore said there would be some concessions to the sluggish economy.

After launching seven titles in recent years, including Real Simple, Moore said the company recognized that the economy cannot support more magazine titles.

Moore plans to hold down costs as best she can at Time Inc. and wait for the tide to turn.

"In the teeth of this recession, we'll delay investment spending on new products," she said. Then, "we'll be well-positioned when [the economy] comes back."

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