CEO Lisa Gersh exits Martha Stewart company

Exec in job less than a year; stock tanks

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia CEO Lisa Gersh will step down after less than a year in a move that surprised the industry and sent the company’s shares down by more than 4%. The company described the exit as part of an ongoing restructuring in digital, mobile, video and merchandising and said Gersh will stay on during a transition as the search for her replacement gets under way.

Gersh was co-founder of Oxygen Media and COO until it was acquired by NBCUniversal in 2007. She was hired by Martha Stewart in May to replace Charles Koppelman as the company struggled with a soft print market and a lackluster video business.

The current revamp will result in annualized cost savings of up to $47 million and $5 million-$7 million in additional cash flow, MSO said Wednesday. Merchandising revenue is expected to be up 15% this quarter from a year ago.

Founder and non-executive chairman Martha Stewart said the company’s “media businesses are now repositioned for the future, and we are excited about the potential of our digital, mobile, video and print platforms…The rest of the board and I are grateful for Lisa’s leadership and thank her for the many contributions she has made.”

MSO’s output includes publications Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings, apps, TV and video programming including the series “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School” and a channel on Sirius XM. It recently said its Everyday Food magazine will cease as a standalone publication.

It has merchandising deals with retails including Macys, Home Depot and J.C. Penney and owns chef Emeril Lagasse’s media and merchandising brands.

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