Published on 1st January 2020
Reed Business Information Ltd (RBI) – part of RELX – has agreed to sell the brand to MA Agriculture, a new company created by MAG to house Farmers Weekly.
The deal includes Farmers Weekly magazine, its FWi community website and trading platforms, an events portfolio including the Farmers Weekly Awards, newsletters and social media platforms supporting these activities.
The transaction does not include the agricultural connectivity, workflow, data and analytics business Proagrica, which reflects RELX’s strategy of focusing on its data and analytics business.
Launched in 1934, Farmers Weekly has a circulation of nearly 42,000, with over 26,000 subscribers.
MAG employs 434 staff, has a turnover of £51 million and earnings before tax of £8.5 million. This will be its third acquisition in the past 12 months.
The company currently has 100 magazines in 12 different sectors and organises up to 250 events, exhibitions and awards every year.
In 2019, MAG acquired 12 magazines, mainly in aviation and auto, from UKi Media and Events, as well as The Engineer and its Subcon exhibition from Centaur Media.
Farmers Weekly will continue to be based at its Sutton offices, with 54 members of its staff transferring under Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (TUPE).
Publishing director Karl Schneider, sales director Dan Smith, marketing director Tony Hill and head of product Ed Morgan will all join the board of MA Agriculture.
MAG founder and chairman Mark 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.”
Farmers Weekly publishing director and editor-in-chief 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.”
Proagrica chief executive Graeme McCracken said: “This divestment reflects the strategic priority for Proagrica of focusing on its connectivity, workflow, data and analytics businesses.
“MAG is a great home for the publishing portfolio, with a strong personal connection with the market, and we are confident that it will provide the right focus for the future of the Farmers Weekly team and business.
“I’d like to personally thank all the staff for their exceptional dedication and commitment over the years, I’m immensely proud of Farmers Weekly’s achievements and we look forward to their continued success.”