Specialist publisher Mark Allen Group to buy Farmers Weekly

Specialist publisher Mark Allen Group is set to buy the 85-year-old Farmers Weekly magazine from Reed Business Information.

MAG called it an “incredibly significant” acquisition and created the new MA Agriculture company to house the brand. The purchase is due to complete by the end of January.

The financial value of the deal, which includes the Farmers Weekly magazine, website, events, newsletters and social media, has not been disclosed.

Farmers Weekly employs 54 members of staff who will continue to be based in its office in Sutton, south London. Its editor-in-chief, sales director, marketing director and head of product will join the MA Agriculture board.

Editor-in-chief and publishing director Karl Schneider said: “I’m really excited about embarking on the next chapter of the Farmers Weekly story as part of the Mark Allen Group.

“RBI has been a good home for Farmers Weekly, but it’s great to be joining a company completely focused on and passionate about publishing and events.

“I know that this fertile environment will help accelerate our ambitious plans to extend Farmers Weekly’s lead as the UK’s top farming publication and events organiser.”

Farmers Weekly has a circulation of almost 42,000 with more than 26,000 subscribers.

Mark Allen, founder and chairman of MAG, said the deal was the “summit” of its acquisition strategy.

The group’s pre-tax profits grew by more than a third last year to £6.8m, with the company saying it planned to “continue growing the business both organically and by acquisition”.

Earlier in 2019 MAG bought 12 B2B transport magazines from UKI Media and Events, as well as the 163-year-old The Engineer magazine and its associated event Subcon from Centaur Media.

Allen said: “This really is a dream come true for me. I grew up in Somerset and my father was a concrete manufacturer working daily with farmers, so I know farmers and Farmers Weekly well.

“When I worked for RBI many years ago Farmers Weekly was regarded as the very top of the publishing mountain both inside and outside the company. I can’t believe it is coming home so to speak.

“It represents the summit of our acquisition strategy. In future we will be looking to more organic growth, rather than acquisition, as our main focus.”

Chief executive Ben Allen added that Farmers Weekly would be an “incredibly significant acquisition” for MAG, cementing its “position as one of the UK’s leading independent providers of quality, specialist content”.

“Our immediate aim now is to build on the outstanding work that RBI have done in developing the brand and ensure that Farmers Weekly continues to get the care that it rightly deserves,” he said.

Reed Business Information is part of Relx. It still owns the B2B title Estates Gazette.

The deal does not include the rest of the agriculture part of the business, called Proagrica, which will now focus on data and analytics.

MAG publishes about 100 magazine and journals, including B2B brands such as HR, Print Week, The Optician and the British Journal of Nursing.

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