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February 7, 2024updated 15 Feb 2024 1:17pm

Updated: Emap sells Countryman’s Weekly and Best of British

The sales come not long after the closure of country life title The Countryman.

By Bron Maher

Update, 15 February 2024: The Countryman’s Weekly has been acquired by Fieldsports Press, saving it from closure. Despite an email sent to Metropolis staff saying the title had already closed, the deal to acquire the magazine was completed in late January. You can read the up-to-date story here.

[Read more: Countryman’s Weekly saved from closure through merger with Shooting Times]

Original story, 7 February 2024: Emap has sold one magazine and closed another amid what its chief executive called “an increasingly challenging consumer newstrade market”.

In an email to staff last week Robert Marr, the chief executive of Emap parent company Metropolis, said the business had “made the difficult decision to discontinue the publication” of The Countryman’s Weekly and Best of British.

The Countryman’s Weekly, a fortnightly magazine about country sports such as hunting and shooting, will cease publication in March.

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The company is making all staff on the title redundant, including editor Tracey Allen, who has been at The Countryman’s Weekly for nearly 42 years. The title appears to employ five staff.

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Marr said in his email: “The teams behind these publications have done commendable work navigating the increasingly challenging consumer newstrade market, grappling with double-digit market declines year after year and recent cost inflation.

“Regrettably, we were unable to secure a new publisher for Countryman’s Weekly to continue as a publication, and as a result, Tracey Allen and her dedicated team in Plymouth will be moving on from the group in March and the Plymouth office will close on 12 February.”

The title does not have an ABC certificate but claimed to have an audience of 60,000 country sport enthusiasts. The Countryman’s Weekly Facebook page has 22,000 followers

The website for Emap’s Countryman’s Weekly is redirecting to www.shootinguk.co.uk, the website for the Fieldsports Press-owned Shooting Times and Sporting Gun.

The Countryman’s Weekly was formerly called The Shooting News and was also formerly weekly.

The closure of The Countryman’s Weekly comes three months after another country life magazine, The Countryman, folded following 96 years in publication.

Its parent company Dalesman Publishing said at the time that the magazine’s future had become “unviable”: “The Covid lockdowns, print and paper costs have soared by 70% and postage has leapt by 26%, and there has been a steep decline in advertising revenue.”

Best of British magazine sold

Meanwhile, Emap has sold monthly nostalgia and heritage magazine Best of British to Mortons Media Group. Mortons publishes titles on subjects including trains, heritage cars, motorbikes and miniature models.

Best of British has two editorial staff, editor Simon Stabler and sub-editor Jon Harris, both of whom have moved across to Mortons. Mortons publisher Steve O’Hara declined to say how much the company paid for the magazine.

This title also does not have an official ABC figure, but claims a monthly circulation of 30,000, with 5,000 subscriptions and an 85% renewal rate.

Marr wrote: “We extend our best wishes to everyone involved in these publications for their future endeavours. Their hard work and dedication have been greatly appreciated, and we are grateful for the significant contribution made over the years.”

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