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Conde Nast shuts US business magazine Portfolio

NEW YORK - Conde Nast's lavish business magazine Portfolio has folded after a two year struggle to match its "spare no expense" business model to drastically falling advertising revenues.

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Launched as a potential peer to such established titles such as Forbes or Fortune, Portfolio's 85 staff were informed yesterday that it would cease printing, in what media analysts are calling a spectacular end to the "high-flying" glossy trade.

In 2007, former Wall Street Journal editor Joanne Lipman was appointed editor for the launch of Portfolio, with an unprecedented $125m budget, which was eagerly spent hiring the US' brightest business journalists and designers in the US.

By October last year it was clear that Portfolio was failing to make up the tremendous gap in advertising revenue and laid off 20% of its staff, mostly from its expensive digital division.

Portfolio also began printing ten issues annually instead of the initial 12, but the measures were unable to prevent drastic quarter one figures, hit dramatically by the fall in the advertising market, coming up nearly 60% short in matching costs.

Portfolio's bread and butter advertisers were mainly luxury brands, such as manufacturers of expensive watches, champagne and private jets.

As the recession deepened, companies began to reign in their marketing spend, which struck Portfolio particularly hard.

In the first three months of 2009 the number of ad pages dropped nearly 50%, compared to an industry wide fall of 25%.

Tellingly, Portfolio's April issue was also the magazines smallest, a meagre 106 pages compared to its 336-page launch issue.

This week Conde Nast group publisher David Carey admitted that the launch of Portfolio was ill-timed -- an unforeseeable circumstance -- and potential future gains could not sustain present loses.

Carey said: "While the unprecedented nature of these times has made business and the economy the main topic of conversation, it has also led to high levels of uncertainty and a tremendous reduction in ad spend in sectors Portfolio depends on."

Portfolio is the latest title in Conde Nast's glossy range to shutter its doors.

In the past year, the Manhattan-based publisher closed a number of others, including House & Garden, Jane, Cargo, Vitals and Domino.

The company has several other successful titles under its remit, including Vogue, GQ and The New Yorker and Wired, which was recently reintroduced to the UK.

It also publishes the technology title Wired, which is struggling with a similar drop in ad pages, more than 50% in Q1. Wired launched in the UK last month with a rumoured £2m marketing budget.

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