20/01/2016 11:15 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

Bauer Media Confirms Cleo Magazine Closure, Dolly To Move To Digital-First Product

Cleo Magazine Australia

The closure of what is arguably Australia’s most iconic magazine, Cleo, was confirmed on Wednesday morning as its publisher, Bauer Media announced it was to fold after 44 years, with plans to refocus its efforts on the teen title, Dolly as a bi-monthly digital product.

Andreas Schoo, interim CEO of Bauer Media, said in a statement: “I would like to thank Lucy Cousins and all of the CLEO editorial team for their ongoing dedication to the magazine over the years.

“Scale, engagement and a robust digital strategy are key to our success and we believe we have a compelling offer in Dolly and Cosmopolitan to lead our young women’s portfolio into the future."

The Cleo Bachelor of the Year Awards will be relaunched as the Cosmo Bachelor Awards, HuffPost Australia understands.

“Our investment plans for Dolly will see us take a digital first approach, with a focus on mobile video, social media and e-commerce supported by restructured print and digital editorial teams to ensure we are generating the best in market content for consumers; when and how they want it.

“Our always on approach will be complimented by a new look print product, taking Dolly from monthly to bi-monthly, relaunching as a high quality, valued-packed companion to the digital and social platforms, covering major trends, fashion, beauty and issues affecting young women today."

Speculation of the magazine’s closure erupted last week after News Corp reported staff at Cleo, who also work across the teen title Dolly were expected to be notified that afternoon, including the title’s editor-in-chief, Lucy Cousins.

Bauer Media denied the rumours on Friday, stating it was simply speculation, however a call placed to the company's subscription service Mag Shop confirmed that publication of Cleo will cease and that current subscribers can choose to see out the remainder of their subscription by receiving either Cosmopolitan or Elle magazines, or request a refund.

Fears were confirmed when staff of the magazine were informed of Cleo's closure on Monday morning. Staff were advised to wait another two days before the publisher would reveal the fate of Dolly, HuffPost Australia understands.

Just over two years after Bauer Media combined the editorial teams of Cleo and Dolly in an effort to cut costs -- resulting in redundancies -- the future of the remaining staff remain uncertain, though HuffPost Australia understands that members were encouraged to apply for positions at the revamped Dolly on Wednesday morning.

Since the magazine’s website was quietly shut down before Christmas whispers throughout the industry pointed to the imminent closure of the print magazine.

Launched in November 1972, Cleo was given the kiss of life by Kerry Packer with a then 30-year-old Ita Buttrose leading the editorial team.

The story of Cleo’s birth was depicted in a two-part ABC series in 2011 which saw Asher Keddie play founding editor Ita Buttrose.

Buttrose told News Corp on Friday, “The writing was on the wall once I knew they were going to start stripping stories from other publications rather than commissioning stories here in Australia.”

“It’s sad. It’s like a death in the family for me, but it hadn’t been the mag the Cleo team created all those years ago for some time now,” Buttrose said.

The news comes a week after The Australian Women’s Weekly editor-in-chief Helen McCabe resigned, and just over a month after the unexpected departure of the company’s CEO, David Goodchild.

The Huffington Post Australia’s editor-at-large Lisa Wilkinson edited Cleo for 10 years -- making her the longest-standing editor of the magazine. She has reflected on the halcyon days and her role in them here.

The final edition of Cleo will be the March edition on sale February 22.