APN boss surprised as high-profile NZ Magazines publisher quits

Sarah Sandley

The high-profile boss of APN's New Zealand Magazines division has left the building.

Publisher and CEO Sarah Sandley is no longer with the company, her PA told NBR ONLINE this afternoon.

An insider told NBR Ms Sandley departed "suddenly and in a whirl of intrigue".

APN CEO Martin Simons later told NBR he was "surprised" by Ms Sandley's decision. He said she had come to it herself after eight years in the role.

He couldn't comment on her personal reasons but noted all publishers were under a lot of pressure in today's environment.

A senior insider backed up Mr Simons version of events. The publisher had made up her own mind to leave, and other staff were caught on the hop.

The division was performing well, Mr Simons said.

NZ Magazines' stable includes The Listener, New Idea and The Woman's Weekly.

Ms Sandley took charge of the division in 2004.

Internal candidate has inside running
NZ Magazines circulation and marketing manager Chris Gwin had been appointed acting CEO and publisher, Mr Simons said.

APN would be advertising the role. There were also a number of potential internal candidates who were well qualified, the CEO noted.

NBR was told by the senior editorial insider that there was a strong expectation of an inhouse appointment, with NZ Magazines veteran Mr Gwin regarded as having the inside running.

Holding steady
NZ Magazines had mixed results in the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) quarterly figures, which are based on average sales.

The Woman's Weekly dropped from 75,000 to 73,500; Simply You from 34,000 to 32,000 That's Life from 35,000 to 34,000 and Girlfriend from 17,000 to 16,000.

Simply You Living (20,000); Creme (19,000); the NZ Listener (62,000) and New Idea (44,000) were flat.

Editor swap
In another (previously flagged) change at the division, Woman's Weekly editor Sarah Stuart is leaving to study (while retaining some contract work with APN).

New Idea editor Louise Wright is moving across to take control of Woman's Weekly. A new editor of New Idea has yet ot be appointed.

Achiever in the workplace, and on the table tennis table
Ms Sandley took a PhD in English from Victoria University after earning a a BA (Hons) from Birmingham University. She is said to speak three languages, as well as being an accomplished athlete and sports administrator.

Born in London in 1964, Ms Sandley came to New Zealand in 1986 and was the country's top-ranked woman table tennis player during 1986 and 1987, winning five national doubles titles.

She had previously represented England and played for New Zealand at the Asian Games in 1987.

Ms Sandley is also the founding trustee and current chairwoman of the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.

Before joining APN she was general manager of INL Magazines (later Fairfax Magazines) and GM of Gordon and Gotch (now part of PMP).

ckeall@nbr.co.nz

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