From a family business to a thriving global entity: The Edipresse story



Posted by Ed 8 mths ago
Holidays with Picasso, acquisitions and sales, ventures into the unknown…the history of Swiss family-owned publisher Edipresse has been quite a journey. As he hands over the reigns to the fourth generation of Lamunières to run the company, Pierre Lamunière (who is also a member of the FIPP management board) told us what the firm’s colourful history has taught him – including how publishers can survive in the new world.

How did the company come to being and what was the strategy for growth in the early years?
My grandfather Jacques Lamunière was our dynasty's founder. In 1925 he was working for the media agency Publicitas, in Lausanne, Switzerland, when one of his close friends bought the local daily paper. As my grandfather’s friend was more of a financial guy than a publisher, he asked Jacques to manage the newspaper. As an incentive he gave him 50 per cent of the company.

In 1950, my father, who is now 95, succeeded my grandfather as co-owner and publisher. He was a writer and an art critic who had developed personal ties with a lot of artists. I remember him holidaying with Picasso in the South of France. During his tenure, my father developed the group by purchasing a number of competitors – turning Edipresse into by far the largest media company in French-speaking Switzerland.

As a result, the business went public, but with the majority of voting rights controlled by the Lamunière family.

You took over the business in 1986. What did you bring to the table and how did you develop Edipresse’s offering?

When I took over I wanted to internationalise the business. The first move was an association with the Italian publisher RCS (Rizzoli Corriere Della Sera). We bought five per cent of the group and I joined the board of directors. But the main move was the purchase of 50 per cent of Rizzoli New York, RCS’s US subsidiary.

I chaired the business for eight years, during which time the company developed into the most high-end chain of bookstores and one of the most recognised art book publishers in the US. When the Agnelli family took control of RCS group, we sold them back the US operations.

In the early 1990s, I attended a conference. I saw a presentation by the great publisher and founder of Prisma Press, Axel Ganz, who also ended up being one of my predecessors as chairman of FIPP.

He was so enthusiastic and convincing about magazine publishing that it was infectious and, with almost no home market, in 1992 we decided to become an international magazine publisher.


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