updated 1/12/2004 6:44:10 PM ET 2004-01-12T23:44:10

Conde Nast Publications, a major magazine publisher with titles including the New Yorker and Vanity Fair, announced Monday that Steven Florio is stepping down as chief executive after 10 years at the helm.

Florio, who will stay on at Conde Nast's parent company as vice chairman of the Advance Magazine Group, will be replaced by Charles Townsend, who runs the back-office and business side of Conde Nast's magazines as its chief operating officer.

Florio, who also is leaving the job of president, will continue to have broad oversight of Conde Nast's 18 magazines as well as the other various magazines owned by Advance Publications, including the Golf Digest titles, Parade, and Fairchild Publications, which includes Details, W and Women's Wear Daily.

Florio, who is 54, had heart surgey six years ago but said in an interview Monday that he is in good health. Florio said he told his boss, Advance Publications chairman S.I. Newhouse Jr., at the end of last year that he needed a "a major cultural change in my life."

"I'm not retiring," Florio said. "I've been doing this for ten years and I needed a change. Even the best CEOs start to run out of ideas after seven years or so."

Florio said he agreed to stay on for three years in his new role, in which he would be the "public face" of the company, making speeches and representing the company at industry events.

Florio has previously been president of the New Yorker and publisher of GQ. He has been president of Conde Nast since 1994 and chief executive since 1996. Florio will report directly to Newhouse in his new role.

Townsend, 59, had been chief operating officer of Conde Nast as well as of the Advance Magazine Group. Townsend takes on his new role as CEO of Conde Nast on Feb. 16 and will also report directly to Newhouse.

Conde Nast is one of the largest magazine publishers in the United States, with titles including Vogue, Gourmet, Wired, GQ and Self. Its latest title, a men's shopping magazine called Cargo, will launch in March following the success of its corporate sibling Lucky.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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