Reader’s Digest Cuts 8% of Workforce

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Reader’s Digest Association Inc is cutting about 8 percent of its staff as it tries to strengthen itself against the world financial crisis.

Reader’s Digest, which publishes 50 editions of its namesake magazine around the world as well as other magazines, books and videos, also will force some employees to take time off without pay, it said in a statement released Wednesday.

It also will stop matching contributions to U.S. employees’ 401(k) retirement plans.

The company employs about 3,500 people, spokesman William Adler said, making the cuts equal to about 280 jobs. The cuts will include layoffs and leaving some positions unfilled, he said.

Chief Executive Mary Berner called the actions part of a global “Recession Plan,” and said the company will take a charge against earnings in its fiscal 2009 third quarter for the job cuts.

The cuts are similar to those being made by newspaper and magazine publishers around the United States as they deal with falling advertising revenue that has been exacerbated by the world financial crisis.

Reader’s Digest, based in Pleasantville, New York, just north of New York City, published its first issue in 1922. The magazine appears in 21 languages around the world and is sold in more than 80 countries.

It also publishes magazines such as Taste of Home and Every Day with Rachael Ray.

The company was traded on the New York Stock Exchange, but went private in 2007 in a $2.6 billion buyout led by private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings LLC. (Reporting by Robert MacMillan, editing by Matthew Lewis, Richard Chang)