Conde Nast: Mary Berner Out

Mary Berner, former CEO of Conde Nast’s Fairchild unit and current Group President of Conde Nast’s Fairchild division, is leaving the company at the end of this month.

Ms. Berner, fiercely smart and fiercely ambitious, had been layered in a company reorganization four months ago. After having spent five years as a CEO reporting to company patriarch Si Newhouse, she became a group president reporting to Charles H. Townsend, CEO of Conde Nast Publications.

Friends and colleagues say this didn’t sit well with Ms. Berner, who didn’t immediately return a call placed to her cell phone. At least one insider suggested her next moves are pretty much mapped out.

Bigger corporate story: The Fairchild division of the nation’s second-largest magazine company is finished. All its mags are now scattered elsewhere: Jane, Details and Cookie will report to Townsend; everything else—W, a bridal division, and a constellation of trade titles—goes to Mitch Fox, another Conde Nast Group President.

The news is somewhat surprising given Berner’s successes at the company. Under her tenure which began in 1999, Fairchild grew into a significantly larger company with a much bigger consumer magazine presence—its consumer magazines increased from two to seven. Berner also succesfully relaunched the men’s magazine, Details, a task that Conde Nast repeatedly muffed.

Two recent Fairchild launches, shopping titles Vitals Man and Vitals Woman, were recently shuttered.

Full Disclosure: I was part of a small team at Advertising Age that named her Publishing Executive of the Year in 2004.

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