Columbia House Eliminates 87 Jobs: Deitz Departs

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

As part of a sweeping reorganization, The Columbia House, Company New York, yesterday eliminated 87 jobs including that of long-time employee Evelyn Deitz, vice president of list marketing and mailing services.

The layoffs represent just over 2% of the company’s total full-time workforce of 3,500 employees and affects 49 New York employees, 9 in the Terre Haute, IN, distribution facility, 28 in Toronto and one in Colorado City.

Additionally, 62 open positions have been closed. Newly appointed Columbia House president Brian Wood said the staff reduction would yield expense reductions of approximately $10 million a year.

Deitz, who had worked for the company since 1978, was appointed to vice president in 1993 and had previously worked as director of list marketing and mailing services. She had reported to Sharon Kuroki, executive vice president of music club marketing who left the company in December.

Sources said others who lost jobs include Robert Cleary, vice president inventory planning and administration; Barry Reiss, senior vice president business and consumer affairs; Rick Hunt, vice president electronic media; and Thomas O’Malley, vice president information systems.

The company declined to name or confirm the employees who lost jobs. “Out of respect for the privacy of those affected we do not answer questions about individuals,” spokesman Howard Polskin said.

Polskin said that all list management and acquisition responsibilities will remain in house.

He declined comment on the status of Deitz’s department but industry sources said that the three departments that had made up list marketing and mailing services–list acquisition, list rental and mailing services–had been split up into three reorganized areas.

Deitz’s three direct reports, Linda Pascale, director of list planning and acquisition; Michelle Weiss, director of sales for list rental and ride alongs and Jody Berenblatt, director of marketing services have all been reassigned to the newly created areas, sources said.

Pascale will report to Linda Andersen, who has been newly named vice president of advertising and Weiss will report to Richard Capossela, also newly named vice president of advertising. In addition, Berenblatt has been reassigned to work for Kay Swan in creative services, sources said.

Anderson and Capossela yesterday were named to manage the newly formed unified new member acquisition department to generate enrollments to all the domestic music and video clubs. The new member acquisition functions were formerly separate units of the music and video clubs.

Deitz, had been long active in direct marketing receiving a number of awards including the Silver Apple Award from the Direct Marketing Club of New York in the mid 90’s and List Leader of the Year from the Direct Marketing Association in 1997. She was a member of the Idea Exchange Committee and List & Database Counsel and a sitting member on DMA’s Committee on Ethical Business Practices.

In other news, the company named Michele Jehle to the newly created position of senior vice president, general manager of columbiahouse.com. She joined Columbia House in 1995 and is responsible for marketing, merchandising and product development.

Harry Elias, vice president of the Columbia House Video Library, has been promoted to senior vice president, Video Clubs.

Last week the company announced the retirement of its longtime chairman and CEO Richard Wolter who retire after seven years as its top executive and a total of 34 years with the company.

The reorganization is a result of the company’s pending merger with CDNOW. With the completion of the merger three divisions will exist–Columbia House, columbiahouse.com and CDNOW–all reporting to Flanders.

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