Rogers Media has announced that it is closing eight of its websites, including Sweetspot.ca and CanadianParents.com.
The company informed employees of the decision in an e-mail on Wednesday afternoon, reports a Rogers-owned publication.
According to Marketing Magazine, Rogers Media chief digital media officer Jason Tafler told staff that “decisions like this are never easy.”
“Leading companies in any industry must take calculated risks and learn from their experiences in the marketplace,” he wrote.
“We acquired these websites over the past several years, and despite solid user and advertiser engagement, we are making the strategic decision to focus our resources on multiplatform integration and growth opportunities for our premium brands.”
In an e-mail to The Huffington Post Canada, Rogers Media spokeswoman Andrea Goldstein said the decision was based on the company’s “long-term growth strategy.”
“We remain committed to investing in areas of growth and areas where we can win,” she said. “Our vision remains intact – to build the most connected relationships through a superior audience, unrivalled intelligence and world-class digital experiences.”
Goldstein told HuffPost that the decision will affect about 20 full-time Rogers employees, but said that the company is “currently engaged in the process of identifying new roles for some of the impacted individuals.”
The move has ignited a mix of shock and disappointment on Twitter, where @CanMediaLayoffs first made the news public on Wednesday.
Much of the outrage appears to stem from the decision to shutter Sweetspot.ca, a popular lifestyle site aimed at women that has attracted a dedicated following since launching in 2004.
“@sweetspotdotca is no longer. It seems the entrepreneurial spirit at "big red" died with Ted Rogers. #shameshameshame,” Tweeted Sweetspot.ca founder Joanna Track.
Track, who is currently CEO of Toronto-based online retailer Dealuxe.ca, sold a minority interest in the site to Rogers in 2006. Rogers acquired the remainder of the company in early 2011.
In a written statement, Track said she was “deeply saddened” to hear about the death of what she called “the first trend spotting guide of its kind for Canadians.”
“I built it with an entrepreneurial drive and energy, but unfortunately that torch wasn't able to keep burning,” she said. “I am devastated for the team, but I know the spirit of Sweetspot will carry on in the hearts and minds of Canadian women across this country."
According to Rogers Digital Media, the site now pulls in an estimated in 125,000 unique visitors and 1.2 million pageviews a month -- making it the No. 1 site for women aged 25 to 54.
Upon acquiring a minority stake in site in 2006, senior vice-president of consumer publishing at Rogers Marc Blondeau called Sweetspot.ca “an exciting business with fabulous opportunity.”
“Sweetspot.ca has great growth potential at both the local and national levels and strengthens Rogers’ leadership position in the Canadian women’s category,” said Blondeau, who left the company in 2009.
The decision to close the websites comes after a difficult few months for parent company Rogers Communications, which has been facing increasing competition in wireless and TV markets.
In April, Canada’s largest communications company posted lacklustre first-quarter results, as year-over-year revenue dipped by 1.1 per cent to $2.95 billion, and adjusted quarterly profits fell by 16 per cent, to $256 million.
The company laid off 300 employees across its operations in March. Upon announcing the jobs cuts, which were concentrated in management and head office positions, the company described the move as a bit to increase efficiency within the organization.
On its website, Rogers Digital Media maintains that it is “one of the fastest-growing Canadian networks,” with 107 per cent year-over-year increase in unique visitors, which now total 17 million.
The Huffington Post Canada has placed a request for an interview with Rogers Media, and is currently awaiting a response.
With files from Sarah Kelsey, The Huffington Post Canada