Lonely Planet staff have described the mood in the office as ‘‘gloomy’’ as news of wide-scale redundancies sinks in at the travel publisher's Melbourne headquarters in Footrscray on Friday.
Employees learnt on Thursday whether their jobs will be lost, with some describing it as ‘‘the end’’ of the iconic Australian company in its home town.
Some staff left the office in tears, while others have huddled in small groups outside discussing the details of the changes as they become aware of them.
Staff at the Footscray office are refusing to talk to media about the changes to the headquarters, until all their colleagues are aware of their own fate through management meetings with individual staff members. It is believed there are about 250 staff at the travel publisher’s headquarters.
Management spoke to staff as a group on Thursday at the Footscray office at 9.30am, but the meeting was scant on detail, staff said.
Fearing the worst, staff this week have been updating resumes and online job profiles.
BBC Worldwide sold Lonely Planet - famously grown by Tony and Maureen Wheeler from a single "shoestring" backpacker’s guide into a publishing giant - to Nashville-based NC2 Media, owned by a reclusive US billionaire Brad Kelley.
The Lonely Planet Melbourne, London, and Oakland offices are expected to be hardest hit by today’s job cuts.
Travel news site Skift.com reports that digital operations are expected to be shifted from Melbourne to Nashville, and editing and commissioning will be centralised in London.
A staff member at the refurbished warehouse office in Footscray said morale had been low since NC2 Media bought Lonely Planet. The staff member said 80 redundancies were expected.
Staff described the meeting as scant on detail and it was still not clear to them how the changes would affect staff.
Lonely Planet Chief Operating Officer Daniel Houghton confirmed around 70- 80 roles would be made redundant worldwide.
"There are roles being made redundant, but new ones have been created and redeployment opportunities exist," he said.
"Everyone who we can contact has been notified within the last 24 hours."
He said Lonely Planet remains committed to a Melbourne office and content creation as the changes roll out over the next 6-12 months.
Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance Victorian Branch secretary Louise Connor said she would discuss the planned restructure with Melbourne staff and contributors at the earliest opportunity.
"Our first priority is to discuss this with our members who are affected by this restructure.
"I also expect we will meet with the company to discuss their proposal."
with Benjamin Millar