3, rue Bayard
Telephone: +33 1 44 35 60 60
Fax: 01 44 35 61 61
Web site: http://www.bayardpresse.com
Incorporated: 1873 as Maison de la Bonne Presse
Sales: EUR 390 million ($380 million) (2001 est)
NAIC: 511120 Periodical Publishers; 511130 Book Publishers
One of France’s oldest publishing groups, Bayard SA is also one of the country’s largest, particularly in its three target markets of the youth, senior citizen, and Christian sectors. Bayard is active in the newspaper market, with the daily La Croix, published since 1883, and in the book publishing and magazine publishing sector. The company publishes more than 100 magazine titles worldwide, including 39 in France alone, reaching more than 50 countries and an estimated readership of 30 million. The company’s flagship titles include Pomme d’Api, the leading French magazine for the two- to seven-year-old age group, also published in 11 countries under varying names; Notre Temps, a lifestyle magazine for senior citizens that has also found success in the Dutch, Belgian, and German markets; the J’aime Lire series, said to be read by one of every two French youth; Pèlerin, the company’s first publication, launched in 1873; and other titles including Choice, Enfant, D Lire; Panorama, and Le Monde de la Bible. In book publishing, Bayard has captured the leading share of the French youth market, with a list of more than 900 titles and sales of some nine million books per year. Bayard is also building a presence in the multimedia market, with a range of CD-ROM and music titles; the company has also launched Bayardweb, a web site production company in association with Suez and Médéric, as a vehicle for the development of web sites for the company’s magazine titles. Bayard is a private company owned by the Assumptionist religious order. The company is led by President Alain Cordier.
19th-Century Religious Roots
In 1845, Emmanuel D’Alzon founded a new religious order in Nîmes, the Augustins de l’Assomption, in part as a reaction against the French revolution and a looming secularization of French society. The Assumptionists, adherents of the Roman Catholic Church, were officially recognized by Pope Pius IX in 1864. In the early 1870s, the group began organizing its first pilgrimages. In order to lend support to its pilgrims, the Assumptionists began producing a newsletter in 1872 named Pèlerin. A year later, the newsletter became a weekly publication, and enjoyed continuous publication into the beginning of the 21st century.
The publication of Pèlerin awakened a new vocation for the Assumptionists, who quickly adopted the use of the press for spreading their religious and social vision. The congregation created its own publishing house, Maison de la Bonne Press, which was to remain the group’s imprint until the 1950s. Pèlerin remained the group’s sole imprint during the 1870s, becoming an illustrated journal in 1877.
The 1880s marked a new era in the Assumptionist’s publishing arm. In 1880, the group debuted La Vie des Saints, a publication which remained in print until the dawn of World War I. The group produced a number of other long-lived titles, such as Echos de Notre Dame de France à Jérusalem, launched in 1889 and remaining in publication until 1938, and Mon Almanach, launched in 1893 and ending publication only in 1940. Yet the group’s most successful publication remained its daily newspaper, La Croix, launched in 1883 and which quickly became the country’s most influential Catholic newspaper.
In the 1890s, La Croix became notorious for its vehement anti-Dreyfus, and anti-Jewish editorial policy. Proudly proclaiming itself “the most anti-Jewish newspaper in France,” La Croix through its scurrilous attacks became, in part, responsible for the expulsion of the Assumptionist order from France at the beginning of the 20th century and the enacting of legislation guaranteeing the official separation of church and state in France.
Despite its—temporary—expulsion from France in 1900, the Assumptionist order and the Maison de la Bonne Press continued producing new titles, in addition to its existing catalog, including La Croix and Pèlerin. World War I was to provide a new rupture for the publishing house, which saw many of its journals, magazines and newspapers shut down for the duration.
Following the war and especially in the years leading to World War II, Maison de la Bonne Presse, and particularly La Croix and Pèlerin, adopted a more moderate, pro-Republican tone. The group continued its focus on religious publications, launching notably La Documentation Catholique in 1919, which, together with La Croix and Pèlerin, was to be the only other group publication from before World War II to survive into the 21st century. In the 1930s, however, Maison de la Bonne Presse ventured into what was later to become a group specialty, that of youth-oriented magazines. One of the first of these was Bayard, introduced in 1936 and remaining in production into the 1960s.
Worldwide Publisher in the New Century
The 1950s marked an era of change for Maison de la Bonne Presse, as the publishing house emphasized a stronger separation between its editorial policy and the Assumptionist congregation. While members of the Assumptionist order maintained key positions in the publishing house’s hierarchy, the company took on more and more laypersons to design and produce its publications. This change was underlined by the adoption of a new name for the publishing house, that of Bayard Presse. Although owned by the Assumptionist order, Bayard was technically independent. Run on a nonprofit basis—the Assumptionist order did not take any of Bayard’s profits—the company enjoyed the return of all profits as capital for future investment.
Bayard launched a number of new titles in the 1950s, such as Bible et Terre Sainte, Rallye Jeunesse, and Images Lumineuses. Most of these titles were shortlived, although some, such as Catéchiste d’Aujourd’hui and Presse Actualité, remained in publication into the 1970s and 1980s. At the beginning of the 1960s, the company found more lasting success with the newsmagazine Panorama. Launched in 1962, Panorama remained a part of the company’s catolog at the turn of the century.
The year 1966 marked a new and significant moment for Bayard. In that year, the company published a new magazine called Pomme d’Api. Targeting the children’s market—and specifically the pre-reader market, Pomme d’Api presented an innovative format for the time, utilizing primarily images and easy to read text. The magazine quickly became the most popular children’s magazine in France, and continued to attract as many as half of the country’s young readers at the beginning of the 21st century. Already the country’s leading Catholic press publisher, Bayard with Pomme d’Api signaled the start of its effort to become the premier publishing group for the French children’s market.
By 1968, however, the company had readied the launch of the third pillar of its publishing catalog, that of the senior’s market. In that year, the company debuted a new magazine targeted specifically at the over-50 set, called Notre Temps (Our Times). The new magazine proved an instant success and later became one of the company’s flagship publications in its drive to internationalize its publishing operations.
In the 1970s, Bayard extended its children’s publishing activities with the launch of several successful magazines, each targeting specific age groups and interests, including Okapi in 1971, Les Belles Histoires de Pomme d’Api, Astrapi, and especially the J’aime Lire series, all of which were to enjoy continuous publication into the next century. The period marked the first of Bayard’s title acquisitions, including Jardin Magazine, acquired in 1975, and Karaté, Onze, and Première, all of which were acquired in 1979. These titles also marked an attempt to diversify further the company’s publishing operations. The company had not neglected its Christian publishing side, however, launching several new magazines and journals, including Points de Repère in 1973, Vivante Eglise in 1974, Le Monde de la Bible and La Foi Aujourd’hui in 1977, and Les Pages de l’Evénement in 1978.
Bayard Presse began its move into the international publishing arena at the beginning of the 1980s. Already in 1978 the company had found success with an English language version of Pomme d’Api, called Little Red Apple, and launched in Hong Kong. Among the markets entered during the 1980s were Spain, mainland China, Italy, Belgium, and Turkey. The company’s entry into these markets typically involved the introduction of a local language edition of one of the company’s titles, such as Notre Temps in Belgium, which was issued in a Flemish-language version, Onze Tijd, in 1988. A year later, the company published a Canadian version, Le Bel Age.
A partnership agreement made in 1987 with U.K. media group Emap brought the company into the United Kingdom with titles including Choice and Yours, both introduced in 1989. Together with Emap, the company acquired one of France’s most successful magazines, Le Chasseur Français, dedicated to hunting, in 1990. That magazine was placed into a joint holding, Medianature, which began acquiring more titles targeting the nature audience.
Bayard stepped up its international activity in the 1990s, entering the Netherlands with, among others, Plus, a Dutch-language edition of Notre Temps, in 1990. By then the company had also entered Germany, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Greece, and Korea in the early 1990s, while making a first step into the United States with the publication of an English-language version of Pomme d’Api, entitled Ladybug.
Bayard is a market leader in children ‘s educational press, religious publications, and seniors press.
Pomme d’Api proved a particularly successful foreign ambassador for the group. By 1996, the company celebrated the 30th anniversary of the children’s magazine with editions in 11 languages, including Caracola, a Spanish version launched in 1988; Hoppla, launched in Germany in 1989; a Catalan-language edition, Cucafera, in 1991, followed by Leppis (Finland) and an edition for Quebec, Canada, that same year. By 1996, Pomme d’Api had also entered Poland, as Bee! and Korea as Te Ne Ne.
Bayard continued to tack onto its titles list with a number of acquisitions, such as Enfant magazine, geared toward parents of young children, acquired in 1992. The company also built up its “nature” selection, adding to Le Chasseur Français with the acquisition of titles including La Chasse and La Pêche et les Poissons, both acquired in 1994, and Terre Sauvage, acquired in 1996, which helped boost Bayard to the leadership in the French hunting and fishing market.
In order to revive the sagging sales of the La Croix newspaper, Bayard took the bold step of converting that evening paper into a morning daily to better serve its primarily subscriber-based readership. At the same time, La Croix’s design was overhauled, presenting a more modern look in order to attract a larger share of newsstand purchases. The changeover, accomplished in January 1998, proved a success, and La Croix once again enjoyed climbing sales.
The 1999 acquisition by Emap of Pleine Vie magazine, Bayard’s main competitor in the senior’s market, led to the breakup of the two companies’ longstanding partnership. Bayard was able to console itself with a new partnership, formed in
1998, with publishing house Gallimard. The new partnership, called Gallimard-Bayard Jeunesse, was formed in order to consolidate both companies’ positions in the French youth market, giving it an undisputed lead in children’s publications.
The company also began looking to North America for its future growth. Already in 1997 Bayard had acquired a series of children’s titles, including Owl, Chickadee, and Chirp, with strong readership bases in Canada and the United States. In
1999, Bayard made two significant acquisitions in that country, buying first Twenty-third Publications, and then Catholic Digest. These acquisitions helped make the company the leading Catholic press publisher in North America, a position solidified with the purchase of Canada’s Novedis in 2000.
Losses in 1999, however, had by then forced a shakeup in Bayard’s operations, including the ouster of longtime president Bernard Porte, who had been responsible for the company’s internationalization and, in the eyes of the company’s Assumptionist owners, its increasing secularization. Porte’s place was taken by Alain Cordier. The changeover was accompanied by a shakeup in the group’s titles, as the group dropped a number of its money-losing titles, including Le Bel Age, an attempt to reach the over-70 market.
Bayard nonetheless continued to build on its successful operations, such as its youth-oriented pocket books publishing division, which had gained the top position in the French market and particularly with its successful franchise of the Harry Potter series. The company had also expanded into multimedia, producing CD-ROMs and music CDs, as well as creating, in partnership with Suez and Médéric, its Bayardweb Internet portal, launched in 2001. That year marked the release of the latest Pomme d’Api edition, in Holland, under the name Pompoen, as well as a German edition of Notre Temps, entitled Lenz.
By then, Bayard had returned to profits, and, with sales topping EUR 390 million, had gained the number five position among French publishing groups. The company had also refocused its press publishing operations around its three core target markets of youths, Christians, and seniors, selling off its Medianature holdings to Emap. The company expected to continue its successful extension of its titles into international markets—already by 2002 Bayard’s Notre Temps seniors magazine had found new markets in Belgium (as Plus) and Denmark (as Vi over 60).
- Emmanuel d’Alzon founds Augustinians of the Assumption (Assumptionists).
- Pèlerin is published as a newsletter.
- Assumptionists create publishing arm Maison de la Bonne Presse and Pèlerin begins weekly publication.
- Pelerin becomes an illustrated weekly.
- Bonne Presse launches daily newspaper La Croix.
- Assumptionist congregation is expelled from France.
- Bayard is launched as a youth magazine.
- Bonne Presse becomes Bayard Presse.
- Pomme d’Api, a magazine for pre-reading children, appears.
- Notre Temps, a magazine targeting the senior citizen market, is introduced.
- The first foreign publication, the English-language Red Apple, is published.
- Company forms joint-publishing partnership agreement with Emap of the United Kingdom for titles including Choice and Yours.
- Bayard forms Medianature in partnership with Emap to acquire Le Chasseur Français, a popular French hunting magazine.
- Company acquires Enfant magazine.
- Company acquires Ami des Jardins, La Chasse, and Pêche et Poissons, becoming leading “nature” publisher in France.
- Bayard acquires Twenty-third Publications and Catholic Digest in the United States to become the leading North American Catholic press publisher.
- Company acquires Novedis (Novalis), a leading Canadian Catholic press publisher.
Bayard Presse International SA; Bayard Presse Publicité SARL; Société Centrale de Presse et de Publicité SA; Soderel SA; Unijep SA; Diana SA; Canope SA; Gallimard Bayard Jeunesse SA (50%); Bayard Web SNC; Bayard Hachette Routage SA (50%); Bayard Presse Benelux SA (Belgium); Senior Publications Nederland BV (Netherlands); Grieg Media AS (Norway; 25%); Bayard Presse UK Ltd; Bayard Press Espagne SA (Spain); Publications Senior Inc. (Canada); Bayard Press Canada Inc.; Bayard Inc. (U.S.A.); Bayard Presse Asie (Hong Kong); Senior Publications Deutschland (Germany).
AOL Time Warner Inc.; Bertelsmann AG; Sunset Publishing Corp.; Roularta Media Group NV; Quebecor Inc.; R.R. Donnelley and Sons Co.; McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.; Advance Publications Inc.; Orkla ASA; Wolters Kluwer NV; Reed Elsevier Inc.; VNU NV; Gruner + Jahr AG und Co.; Axel Springer Verlag AG; Hachette Filipacchi Medias; Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH; EMAP plc; Hubert Burda Media Holding GmbH und Co KG; Sanoma WSOY Group; Independent News and Media plc; Timon SA; Emmis Communications Corp.
Claude-François, Jullien, “Grandes manoevres autour de la presse catho,” Nouvel Observateur, March 27, 1997.
Cordier, Alain, “Que se passe-t-il à Bayard Presse?” La Croix, October 27, 2000.
Groussard, Véronique, “A Bayard Presse, l’actionnaire, c’est Dieu,” Challenges, June 1, 2000.
La Porte, Arnaud, “La Croix proche de l’equilibre,” La Croix, June 5, 2002, p. 22.
“Le riposte de Bayard à Emap,” Challenges, October 1, 1999.
—M. L. Cohen