Yellow Media Group is combining its Canpages division with its Yellow Pages division, in a move quietly executed Tuesday.
The company isn’t providing much information on the decision, which comes just shy of two years after it spent $225-million on Canpages, which also publishes city directories and has an online hub of listings.
While top-level managers have told The Globe and Mail that the job losses could number in the hundreds, the company says many employees will be offered positions at Yellow Pages. The company won’t say how many employees actually work in the division.
Here is a transcript of the Globe’s interview with Anne-Sophie Roy, Yellow Media’s treasurer.
So what’s going on?
Well, Canpages has not and will not be closed. The business is being integrated within Yellow Pages Group, which is inline with our original investment. So essentially, you’ll remember when we acquired Canpages it was our objective to integrate it and it was done in phases.
There was an initial phase at time of the acquisition, and now this is necessary, this is the next step in terms of the integration and we’re doing it at this time because it seems to be the best decision from a business standpoint for various reasons.
Essentially from a profitability standpoint what we will do is eliminate the residual duplication that existed between the two companies – whether it be GNA, print operations, business will be consolidated. Essentially, the investment in Canpages is going to be more accretive on an integrated basis. That’s from a company standpoint.
From an advertiser and user standpoint, our focus is on the execution of 360 Solutions. Which is the offer we have in the market that covers print, online mobile, video. The whole idea is to have one sales professional that presents a broad set of products and services.
That wasn’t the strategy with Canpages to date. So what’s going to happen now is Canpages offering will be integrated with 360 and Canpages advertisers will be offered 360 in the same way the YPG advertisers are being offered 360. Key point is we were getting calls from advertisers asking why they had to meet with two different reps, they wanted one point of contact to improve dialogue and we feel in hindsight they’ll get better value and better advice with only one point of contact.
From a user standpoint, in most markets there will be one book of reference. Information will be combined in one directory, from a print perspective. From an online perspective both platforms will continue to co-exist, right now they complement each other but we will go one step further.
What will the new Canpages look like then?
So, I can’t be precise on timeline but during the year we’ll relaunch it so it has a different focus and a different user experience than YPG. I don’t want to go too far [with information]because that is the scoop to come out. It’s a different user experience, a different way to push the content.
Essentially the database both sites crawl will be the same, but how we push results and the structure of the search functionality at the sites.
What about jobs?
There are some jobs that will be eliminated. We’re never specific in terms of quantifying that, however I can tell you that we are making job offers to Canpages employees to fold them back into YPG. There will be some job loss, but a good portion of employees we are trying to migrate to YPG, where there is not duplication of course.
You can’t give an estimate?
No. I saw a number out there that was definitely wrong. It might have been headcount at Canpages before we acquired them.
How many employees actually work at Canpages?
I’m not sure I can disclose that. The reason I’m mentioning it is we already had started the integration when we acquired the business. There had been a headcount reduction since day one of the acquisition. So maybe the 700 is before initial phase of contradiction.
But all the offices are locked. There are security guards. Why?
The reality is we realize from a const containment perspective having a lot of small offices across the country doesn’t make sense. For most of these premises across the country we actually have space at a YPG office not too far. Idea is to regroup the people together.
So you can close offices without losing people?
Correct. We are closing offices and relocating people that stay with YPG within those offices. It’s all about making it easier for the advertiser, concentrating leads. There are some job loss related to duplicate functions, for sure. The rest, when you do an integration, there is an offering process. Offices may be closed, but [employees]are being talked to so they be redirected if need be to the YPG offices.