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Q&A

Henri Gibier

Editor in chief, Les Echos

Paris

The weekend-supplement market is hotly contested territory, not least in France where the dailies vie for readers and advertising spend. This month, Les Echos launches a new magazine to join the fray. Unlike its counterparts from Le Monde, Le Figaro or Le Parisien, France’s oldest economic journal didn’t have a weekend magazine so editor in chief Henri Gibier led a small editorial team to fill the gap. A year in the planning, the first issue of Les Echos Week-end will come out on the first Friday of October. Monocle spoke to Gibier ahead of the launch to assess the state of the marketplace facing him.

What’s the newspaper’s history?
Les Echos is a financial and economic daily established in 1908 by brothers Robert and Émile Servan-Schreiber. Back in the day it was called Les Echos de l’Exportation. It was a four-page pamphlet that sought to inform the world of industry. It quickly became France’s first economic daily newspaper. For a long time it was part of the Pearson group and in 2007 it was sold to LVMH.

What’s the focus of Les Echos?
The strategy was always to be an economic journal like the Financial Times. A daily newspaper that is self-sufficient; one in which you can find articles on all sorts of subjects that are in some way linked to business and the economy but still addressing a broad range of subjects. The strength behind Les Echos is that it is sold in great quantity to companies and businesses, and is seen as a work tool. About fifteen years ago we created the Série Limitée: a luxury-and-lifestyle supplement to Les Echos similar to How to Spend It, as directed by Bénédicte Epinay. We also have some weekend pages included in the daily edition, as well as a monthly publication called Enjeux-Les Echos that analyses the prevalent economic, financial, social and cultural trends. Nonetheless, we had never taken the plunge of making a weekend supplement.

What finally clinched it for you?
Today it’s more possible because all the examples of weekend supplements in France are, by and large, a success. The notion of dividing one’s leisure and work time has become rather vague; the weekend is a great period for broadening your horizons while you unwind.

How do you stand apart from other weekend supplements?
This will principally be a magazine of first-class stories and our originality will be to cover traditional themes but unite them together with more unusual ones. The first part will be dedicated to business, the second to culture, the third to lifestyle and the last will be called Et Moi and will cover questions of a more personal ilk such as education, money, personal development and health. All the sections will start with an in-depth story and each section should be strong enough to feature on the cover. There will be research about innovation and also business lists for example, “10 people who can buy anything that exists on the planet”.

What was in your dummy issue?
We’ve chosen Pascal Nègre, CEO of Universal Music Group, as part of numéro zéro. Soon he’ll have been there for a year so the subject is very current. Each week the writer Philippe Besson will carry out a press review. Topics will be the post-mortem “life” of Steve Jobs (141 patents have been filed since his death); the controversial subject of contemporary art during the International Contemporary Art Fair and a list of the top 10 richest Chinese in the world. For the Style section we have a survey on brands that profit from anniversaries. Then there is a travel dossier on Trieste, fashion and an article on the most expensive diets for eating nothing.

Who are you targeting and what will the circulation be like?
Les Echos Week-end came about primarily so as to attract advertisers with luxury. Neither Enjeux (because it doesn’t have a clear angle) nor the Friday supplement (because it’s not high scale enough) were considered to be big advertising opportunities by the big brands. That includes LVMH brands. We want to get out of the work-newspaper niche. We want to feminise our audience and rejuvenate our image. We’re not in the same market as Le Monde’s M supplement. M is very hyped, super detailed and at times reserved only for the initiated Parisians, which makes it very chic. Our readers are half-Parisian, half-provincial, and lots of industry leaders from everywhere. At stake is our image and editorial reputation. We’re very B to B and we want to go from B to C. Les Echos Week-end will be an inspirational magazine.

The competition

Three more French financial times

  1. Challenges
    Founded: 1982
    Group: Perdriel (L’Obs)
    Circulation: 250,000
  2. L’Expansion
    Founded: 1967
    Group: Altice Media Group (also owns Libération and L’Express, among others)
    Circulation: 140,000
  3. Le Figaro Économie, also known as Le Saumon
    Founded: 1984
    Group: Figaro Group
    Circulation: 330,000

Three international competitors

  1. Finacial Times (UK)
    Owner: Nikkei
    Supplement:How to Spend It
    Circulation: 207,000
  2. Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy)
    Owner: Confindustria
    Supplement: Plus (business on Saturdays) and Domenica (arts and culture on Sundays)
    Circulation: 168,000
  3. The Nikkei (Japan)
    Owner: Nikkei Inc
    Supplement: Nikkei Plus 1
    Circulation: 3,010,000

It's a knockout

UK [MAGAZINES]

A new addition to the “smart sport” shelf at the newsstand has a masthead that signals its intent with sport and fashion editor given equal billing. The first issue of Samson delivers handsome editorial that’s pitched perfectly for advertisers to nestle against.

Eli Ankutse, editor in chief of Joshua’s Magazine, heads up the new title. If the Biblical-naming theme ain’t broke don’t fix it, just beware of Delilahs and hairdressing scissors before you venture onto the track or the court. Where did Ankutse get his inspiration? From 17th-century French polymath Blaise Pascal of course, whose line, “The struggle alone pleases us, not the victory” sets the tone for a celebration of the ordinary as much as the legendary. Ankutse says of his editorial compass: “Guys turn up every week for five-a-side football. They get beaten regularly but they love to turn up week after week.” By bigging up the everyman, the journeyman and (sometimes) the loser, Samson proves a winner.

Sound proud

USA [AUDIO]

There are products that are made to look like serious kit and there’s serious kit; these headphones from US audiophile concern Audeze are proudly the latter. Features such as “planar magnetic transducer technologies” are all very well but what does that mean? Well, it ensures these chunky cans sound wonderful: pitch-perfect, detailed, dynamic and as subtle with Kamasi Washington as they are heavy with The Who.

Dramatic shifts

CEE [TELEVISION]

The Eastern Bloc could soon start rivalling the noir output of the Nordic region as a number of former communist countries across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) start to make their own original television dramas.

Rising advertising revenues have helped broadcasters across the CEE begin to produce high-quality crime thrillers and action dramas that are not only attracting domestic audiences but travelling out of the region for the first time.

HBO, known for glossy big-budget US dramas such as Game of Thrones and True Detective, is leading the charge in CEE. Its European production hub, which is focused on the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Poland, has been responsible for shows such as black comedy Umbre (Shadows), about a Romanian taxi driver who wants to leave his double life as a mob debt collector, and border patrol drama Wataha (The Pack) set in the Bieszczady mountains on the Ukrainian-Polish border.

But its biggest hit has been Burning Bush, a period drama about a Prague student who lit himself on fire in protest at the Czech government in 1969. The mini-series – which was directed by Agnieszka Holland, the Oscar-nominated Polish director who has directed episodes of The Wire and House of Cards – has been sold into countries including the US, Israel and Belgium.

Ukrainian programming is also starting to travel, despite the country’s perilous political situation. Eight-part oligarch-gang comedy-drama The Last Moskal has been attracting attention, while Nyukhach (The Sniffer), about a detective who tracks down murderers with only his sense of smell, is being remade for French broadcaster TF1.

The best of CEE:

  1. Labyrintu (Labyrinth): Czech public broadcaster Ceská Televize is looking to rival the likes of Denmark’s DR, which produced The Killing, with crime thriller Labyrintu. The seven-part drama, which is directed by Jirí Strach, centres around a serial killer who murders a well-known politician with medieval torture instruments and leaves his body deep in the woods. The show launches this autumn.
  2. Kud Puklo Da Puklo (No Matter What): The Croatian comedy drama about three siblings who inherit their grandfather’s house in a small village. More than 170 episodes have been produced for Nova TV, which is part owned by US media group Time Warner, and it has been exported to more than 30 territories, including across the Middle East.
  3. Czas Honoru (Days of Honour): A Polish war drama produced for public broadcaster TVP. The show, which is set during the Second World War, follows a conspiracy within occupied Warsaw. It has started to sell globally, recently agreeing deals with Scottish broadcaster STV and Lithuanian network LRT.
  4. Hvardiya (The Guard): Controversial Ukrainian drama following the aftermath of last year’s Maidan revolution and the country’s battle with Russian-backed separatists; it centres around a group of men who turn up to a boot camp ready to fight. It will air on 2+2, which is part of the free-to-air network operated by 1+1. The drama is one of the first original series not to be co-produced with a Russian broadcaster.

Q&A- Salem Rashid

Founder, Bedouin Records

Dubai

In the United Arab Emirates, an independent electronic music scene is taking shape thanks to homegrown labels such as Bedouin Records, founded in 2014 by Dubai native Salem Rashid. Specialising in high-concept vinyl releases, the label’s cerebral grooves and arresting visuals have not gone unnoticed, resulting in international collaborations with DJs and producers from Tokyo to Bristol and Chicago.

How is Bedouin different from other labels?
I do pretty much no marketing or advertising. The Wire wrote about the first record and then it just went from there: word of mouth. The artists on the label are very active so the name gets spread like that as well. We work with musicians without binding them to contracts. Most labels tell their talent, “For this amount of money I own you for X amount of years.” I don’t want to have that mentality.

Why the focus particularly on vinyl?
I see beauty in the physical nature of vinyl. And I think people who buy and listen to vinyl are more careful with what they choose to listen to; they listen to what they have more carefully. For me, if it’s just digital there is no substance to it. But I’m not against digital. I might do some digital releases at some point because more and more people are asking where they can download the records.

Who buys your records?
The label is most successful in Europe, the US and Japan. Locally, it’s building: there’s a record store opening in Dubai soon, new DJs are popping up and people are collecting records. I feel there is a lot of potential for a music scene to develop here. The whole rhythm of Dubai, in terms of development, is very fast, yet in terms of an art scene it’s still slow. It’s getting there.

How do you go about commissioning cover art?
To put it simply, the aim is to put good music into nice sleeves. The way I choose artists is pretty organic: I reach out to people whose work I like. I sketch out the vision for each record and we take it from there. Aesthetically and musically the influence is roots Bedouin but also quite futuristic. You have all this new stuff made for clubs now – very light-sounding – but I’m more influenced by early electronic music, which tends to be more dark and raw.

What are your plans for the future?
Apart from further releases on Bedouin and subsidiary labels such as Bastakiya Tapes, I’m also curating an audiovisual show and design exhibition in Dubai. Following a recent collaboration with Australian fashion label Perks And Mini there are also plans to release our own clothing line.

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