Health and fitness guru Tosca Reno, who took over as president of Robert Kennedy Publishing after her husband Robert Kennedy died last April, has announced that RKP’s parent company Canusa shut down on June 7.
RKP, founded 40 years ago by Kennedy, was best known for publishing fitness magazines such as Muscle Mag International, Reps!, Oxygen, American Curves and Clean Eating as well as many related books including Hardcore Bodybuilding, Reps!, RockHard!, Beef It!, Pumping Up! and Reno’s own Eat-Clean Diet Series.
Masthead, an online publication about the Canadian magazine industry, reported that the closure of Canusa was a bankruptcy.
A notice on the Deloitte & Touche Web site says that the first creditors’ meeting will be on June 27.
In a statement posted on her blog, Reno attributed the company’s downfall to the soft economy and industry wide pressures:
“…the publishing industry has been hit hard in the last decade in the face of free digital access, resulting in a consistent sharp decline in sales of traditional print publishing. Additionally, this industry as a whole has been adversely affected by consumers increasingly choosing tablet computers over e-book reading, e-books and hard-copy printed materials.”
She added that since her husband’s death, the company had “struggled tremendously in his absence unable to shoulder the burdens left behind. … Due to many years of financial difficulty, I was forced to make the decision to restructure the business as a whole in order to allow our brands, Oxygen, Cleaning Eating and The Eat-Clean Diet to possibly find a new home, where my hope is they can thrive again.” In the U.S., Robert Kennedy's books are distributed by NBN and, at least for the moment, it is business as usual.
PW has not yet reached Reno for comment or details about what assets are owned by Canusa, but comments attributed to some angry former employees on her blog post suggest that the closure was abrupt and left more than 60 staff members suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed. Reno’s blog post for Monday also refers to some acrimony with former employees.
Ironically, Kennedy’s last book, launched post-humously at the Toronto Pro Show for bodybuilding a year ago was titled: Bull’s Eye: Targeting Your Life for Real Financial Wealth and Personal Fulfillment. In an interview with PW in the summer of 2010, Kennedy did not foresee trouble, describing the diet and fitness genre as nearly recession-proof. “I don’t see any sign of people not buying books in this market even when the economy is down,” he said. At that time, he also spoke of turning down a million-dollar offer for Reno's series and a bidding war for one of her titles.