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Playboy moving some departments to L.A. from Chicago

December 13, 2011|By Robert Channick

Reporting from Chicago — After nearly 60 years as a Chicago institution, Playboy Enterprises Inc. is moving its editorial operations out west. Executives confirmed that the magazine's editorial, art and photo departments will shift to the company's Los Angeles office by May.

"Some of the magazine's Chicago employees have been asked to relocate, while others have been asked to stay on in Chicago to ensure a seamless transition," Playboy spokeswoman Theresa Hennessey said in a statement Tuesday.

No final decisions have been made about other departments at Playboy's Chicago headquarters. Hennessey declined to say how many employees are currently based in Chicago.

The move has been the subject of much speculation since March, when octogenarian founder Hugh Hefner bought back Playboy Enterprises, the company he founded in his Chicago apartment in 1953. Hefner moved to Los Angeles in 1975.

Scott Flanders, who has been Playboy Enterprises' chief executive since 2009, also lives in Southern California, while editor Jimmy Jellinek moved to Los Angeles in August.

Hefner hinted at the magazine's relocation more than a year ago, when asked in an October 2010 interview about the possibility of closing the Chicago offices.

"I think we're probably going to be doing that out of economic concerns, yes," Hefner said. "We will be probably consolidating on the West Coast."

The company went public in 1971 at the height of the flagship magazine's popularity, but long-declining sales and a depressed stock price enabled Hefner to take the company private this year for about $207 million, outbidding rival Penthouse in the process. Average monthly circulation is about 1.5 million through June, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

rchannick@tribune.com

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