Mark Sullivan, VNU group publisher, Jeff Gruenhut, associate publisher/national sales manager of Sporting Goods Dealer, and Jeff Nott, associate publisher of Sporting Goods Business, have resigned, effective July 12.
The three officially launched a new venture with the filing of corporate papers in the state of New York for Formula 4 Media, LLC on July 7.
SNEWSÂ® spoke with John Horan, publisher and owner of Sporting Goods Intelligence -- www.sginews.com -- a leading financial news service covering the sporting goods market. Horan confirmed that he was partnering with Sullivan's team and that Formula 4 Media was licensing the SGI name to use in magazines, conferences, events, market research products and more.
"Mark and I have been friends for a very long time, and finding a way to work together is something we have talked about on and off over the years," Horan told us.
Added Sullivan, "The timing for this business launch became right for all of us quite quickly. Our entire team is very excited by the opportunity. For me personally, I am able to work with a great group of people with a very diverse skill-set."
Mark Holdreith, president - retail division of VNU business publications, moved quickly to promote Judy Leand to the position of editor in chief.
VNU is currently interviewing to find suitable replacements for Sullivan, Gruenhut and Nott we've been told, although Holdreith did not return calls or emails from SNEWSÂ® seeking official comment, other than to email us stating VNU would be providing a statement soon.
SNEWSÂ® View: Horan and Sullivan working together. Now that is a powerful team in the sporting goods arena. Interesting the way things work out. Horan founded Sports Style magazine back in 1978. He left the magazine in 1983, and launched SGI in 1984. Sullivan followed as the publisher of Sports Style a few months after Horan departed. Following a few other gigs, Sullivan joined VNU in 2001 and helped drag SGB back into the black and respectability after the previous publisher nearly killed it. Now Horan and Sullivan are working together to launch a new venture that will certainly compete with SGB and Sporting Goods Dealer. Think SGI Magazine, Footwear Intelligence, Team Intelligence, special publications focusing on the textile markets, the resort markets, active lifestyle fashion and more.
The simultaneous resignations leave SGB and Sporting Goods Dealer, along with the various associated publications, without sales or overall publishing direction, and no matter how quickly VNU responds with hiring replacements, we suspect this is going to hurt for some time to come. In fact, we'll take it one step further and wonder aloud if this move might not really test VNU's publishing mettle, and loyalty to continuing to remain in the sporting goods publishing space.
The simultaneous resignations also give many in the industry reason to wonder what is going on at SGB? No way a company loses three key executives at once if all is sailing along swimmingly. It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out. There is a lot of talent remaining at SGB, beginning with Judy Leand. Now if VNU can manage to stay out of her team's way, provide the support and respect they apparently did not provide Sullivan and team, and find a publisher that actually understands the sporting goods market as well as Sullivan did, all will be fine -- for now.
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