Condé Nast Chairman Charles Townsend to Retire

Posted on

Image courtesy of AdWeek

Condé Nast Chairman Charles Townsend to Retire


Yesterday the news broke that Charles Townsend, the current chairman of Condé Nast, will retire December 31 of this year, after 22 years at the company. Townsend became chairman in January 2016 after 11 years as the company’s CEO. He was succeeded as CEO by Condé Nast president Bob Sauerberg.

Other than mentioning “careful planning,” Townsend gave no concrete reason for his retirement at the end of this year. Rather, in a memo he sent out yesterday, Townsend remarked on his 22 year career at the company and expressed confidence in the direction it is taking in response to the evolving business world.

“The business world is hard at work reinventing itself,” Townsend’s memo reads. “Every sector, every established company, is radically adjusting to the new economic order and the transformation to digitally driven connections with clients and consumers. Condé Nast is no exception. But we’re not intimidated by the challenges, thanks to carefully planned leadership succession initiated several years ago, and the dedication of the organization to preserving and carefully translating the incredibly powerful brands we own into contemporary assets.

“Under Bob Sauerberg’s leadership, an executive organization has been formed that brings together an extraordinarily talented and experienced group of individuals who have the vision and ability to lead our company back to preeminence in the newly developing business sector. I have complete confidence in Bob and his team, and a very good feeling about where they are taking us. I urge everyone to align themselves with their vision, and enthusiastically share your support.”

Townsend’s retirement comes in the midst of a massive restructure at Condé Nast in an effort to better align itself with the consumer. Last month Condé Nast announced a new business model, and on Monday it was made known that the Vogue digital editions will be consolidated. Brands and publications within the publishing house have been closed and combined over the past year in order to achieve these new goals, including consolidating the PR and social media teams for several publications. Last month’s announcement mentioned that the business, copy/research, creative, editorial and technology will be consolidated company-wide.

In a release made to company staffers last month, CEO Bob Sauerberg revealed one of the reasons for this, beyond the evolution of business worldwide: “In January, I spoke to you about the importance of acting as ONE company and breaking down the silos that prevent collaboration across our brands,” it said. “In employee roundtables, group meetings and most recently, our employee survey, there is one constant theme. You want us to remove the barriers so you can work with and learn from your peers across the company.” One would expect breaking down these barriers will only strengthen the 100 year old company, preserving the expectations of high-caliber performance and propelling them successfully through the digital age.


Condé Nast Chairman Charles Townsend to Retire

Avatar photo

Written by Lillie Peterson

Lillie is a graduate from UC Santa Barbara with a bachelor's in Classics and a lifelong fascination for fashion and art. A freelance writer and artist, her hobbies include photography, design, drawing and blogging.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *