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A bellwether of cutting to come?

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

The AP is reporting today that Random House, the largest US-based trade publisher will be freezing pension benefits for current employees and eliminating them for new hires.  Like many organizations, Random House will maintain a defined contribution plan.  In part, this is continuation of an ongoing trend in business away from pension plans to more manageable (for the companies) 401K style plans.  However, the fact that belt tightening is taking place across the industry in indicative of larger pull back in the publishing market.

From the article:

[A spokesman] said talk of cutting pension had been going on for years, although changes at Random House have been expected since Markus Dohle replaced Peter Olson in May as chairman of the publisher’s worldwide operations. “Mr. Dohle’s planning and discussions about the company’s future has been and continue to be very interactive at all levels of the company worldwide,” Applebaum said

Also today, Barnes and Noble reported disappointing same store sales. Sales are down 4.4% to $1.12 billion, while same-store sales fell 7.4% from last year.”

From the article:

Three weeks ago, Chairman Leonard Riggio told employees through an internal memo that the bookseller was “bracing for a terrible holiday season,” and that he expected “the trend to continue well into 2009, and perhaps beyond.”

Riggio wrote, however, that the retailer expects to finish comfortably in the black for the year and doesn’t have any bank debt.

Thursday, Chief Executive Steve Riggio said there was “a significant drop off in customer traffic and consumer spending” in the latest quarter. He added that the company is “taking measures to reduce expenses for the balance of this year and next.” He didn’t elaborate.