Rodale might be for sale. Or it might not be. That was the announcement the company sent out today.
In a release received by Folio: this afternoon, the company states: “Its Board of Directors has initiated a process to explore a range of potential strategic alternatives to best position its industry-leading properties for the future. The company noted that strategic alternatives may include, but are not limited to, the sale of the company as a whole, the sale of select properties or groups of properties or individual businesses, or the continued implementation of its business plan.”
So in other words, we will have to wait and see where things go.
However, this is a pretty significant indicator that more big changes are coming to the health and wellness publisher. The writing has been on the wall for several months. The first indication things were rocky came a couple years back when it shuttered its content marketing division, Rodale Grow. Following that decision there have been leadership changes, layoffs, and other shakeups that included the elimination of ad pages in its digest-size newsstand book Prevention and a total rebranding of Organic Gardening to Organic Life.
Organic Gardening's original banner, Organic Farming and Gardening, was founded in 1942; 12 years after J.l. Rodale, grandfather of current CEO, Maria Rodale, founded Rodale Inc. in 1930. The rebrand to Organic Life in 2015, which included refocused editorial on more lifestyle content, didn’t last long in print, and became a digital-only publication early this year.
Just a couple weeks ago the company also announced it was closing the book on its direct mail division. That news also included an undisclosed number of layoffs. In fairness to Rodale, COO Beth Beuhler told Folio: sister site min in a recent interview that the company was exploring several ways to make the organization leaner and more efficient and was constantly examining the best ways to move the company forward. So today’s announcement fits that ethos.
Today’s announcement is rife with vagueness, even going as far as saying: “There can be no assurance that the process will result in a transaction(s) or on the terms or timing of such a transaction(s), if undertaken. The Board has not set a definitive schedule to complete its review process.”
However, the company has hired Allen & Company to advise them in their strategic decision making. More layoffs could be imminent, as that is often the first course of action for any company looking to tighten their belt or position themselves for sale.
In terms of likely suitors? Well, this is merely speculation, but AMI could make a play, given it already has a portfolio in the health and wellness completive set. Although, it did just drop a cool $100 million on Us Weekly. So perhaps Meredith would be a more apt player. It not only has complementary brands, but it would also be gaining a new audience segment by acquiring Men’s Health. Not to mention it's clearly shopping for more brands after it's reported Time Inc. bid didn't pan out.
We will continue to follow this story.