Future PLC, publishers of Gun Trade News, Clay Shooting and a number of other country titles, has swooped to secure ownership of Shooting Gazette and Shooting Times. The move, which saw the Bath based business acquire competitor, TI Media, now easily makes Future the most powerful voice in shooting. The deal, which was given the okay by the Competition and Markets Authority, is likely to lead to some job losses as Future looks for economies of scale and provides one more sign of the seismic shifts of recent times in specialist magazine publishing.
Having paid more than a £billion to acquire Shooting Times’ former owner IPC Media in 2001, American publishing giant Time Warner then watched in horror as competition from the Internet saw catastrophic falls in advertising and circulation revenue. In 2018, the UK magazine publishing arm now called Time Inc. sold its magazine interests to venture capital business Epris, which in turn renamed the publisher TI Media. That deal was made at a reported £140 million – a huge loss for Time Warner and one that was made all the worst as it is understood that the acquisition price was never paid in full. It is believed that Future have paid a similar sum.
In making the deal Future commented that the acquisition made for a “compelling strategic and financial rationale”. A former publisher of Shooting Times told guntrader: “I am not sure what is so compelling about the market for shooting magazines. Thirty years ago, Shooting Times was selling 33000 copies each week and bringing in around half a million a year in ad revenue. I doubt it is selling more than 10,000 copies now and I’d guess, despite maybe a dozen or more ad rate increases in that time, it would struggle to attract even half that sort of money. And what is true for Shooting Times will be doubly true of the rest. Cover prices are breaking through the £5.00 an issue barrier and often that fiver doesn’t buy much in the way of content.”