Franciscan Media, the Cincinnati-based company that publishes Catholic-interest books under its Servant Books and Franciscan Media imprints, as well as a flagship magazine, St. Anthony Messenger, has laid off 27 employees, about half of its staff. Franciscan Media CEO and publisher Father Dan Kroger told PW most cuts were in back-office positions, plus two in marketing, one audio producer, and nine full- and part-time employees at its call center in Cleveland. Editorial staff was not affected.

Kroger explained the restructuring was a result of strategic planning meetings held in 2014, and continues the company’s direction over the past several years of streamlining operations and outsourcing some functions. Said Kroger, “We’re moving more offsite—for example, we used to do bulk mailings and had lots of call agents [for the magazine], and we found that was not productive.” The magazine is now fulfilled by the printer, Kingery Publishing in Illinois; BookMasters has taken over distribution of books under the two imprints.

The layoffs will not affect book publishing operations, Kroger said. He cited a 12% increase in book sales in 2014, and said the company would increase title output in 2015, from 40 books per year to “about 45.” He added, “Our book content has been vastly improving—we have some very strong writers.” Franciscan also publishes e-books and audiobooks, with its “top books” having simultaneous releases in all formats, said Kroger. “The publishing industry is changing so rapidly, and we are working to keep up.”

The company was known as St. Anthony Messenger Press until a rebranding in 2012, intended to make the organization’s ties to Franciscan spirituality clearer and to distinguish the larger company from the magazine.

“We try to be a broad Church publisher," Kroger said. People have different viewpoints within the Church, and we publish to that” without going to the extremes at either end of the spectrum. “We’re focused on our core mission—to reach people with our faith, the searchers, the seekers.”