IPC plans 30 new titles following 860m buyout

At least 30 new titles within two years, two home interest magazines within three months and a restructured management within 24 hours. Throw in the prospect of a flotation within three years and you start to see the short-to-medium term future of the all new IPC. Ironically, venture capitalist Cinven – which bought the largest consumer magazine group in the UK on Monday – is arguably the least disruptive of all the bidders. Offering 860m, it was also the biggest and most attractive to the seller, Reed Elsevier. Cinven director Brian Linden promises that the group will fund expansion in the business to maintain its top slot. Both the City and the media industry have welcomed the news of Cinven’s intervention as it means little management change and avoids the potential regulatory problems which would have been triggered by a sale to another magazine group. The first sign of change is the creation of five separate divisions following the decision to break-up the former Specialist Division into IPC Music & Sport, and IPC Country & Leisure. The IPC Weeklies Group has been divided into Women’s Weeklies and TV Weeklies with the retirement of the division’s group managing director Nigel Davidson. The SouthBank Publishing Group – which publishes the glossy monthly titles – remains unchanged, as does the sales operation. IPC’s new projects division has been restarted. IPC chief executive Mike Matthew says the revamp will “make the management structure leaner, fitter and more responsive to our markets.” It is principally an administrative tidy-up to absorb the promised expansion from 70 titles to 100 by the year 2000. Although IPC denies the new structure indicates likely areas of expansion – namely TV listing, sport, leisure and lifestyle – it seems inevitable that new launches will be concentrated in these areas. The group says ten titles are currently being prepared for launch. The first of these are expected to be two home interest magazines, one of which is likely to be a quarterly magazine called 30 Beautiful Homes, a test issue of which was published in September. Home interest is a growing sector. BBC Magazines is launching new title this spring; H Bauer Publishing launched Beautiful Living in November; and the National Magazine Company is understood to be planning a store under the banner of its House Beautiful title. In the new structure, Linda Lancaster-Gaye, managing director of the Specialist Division, takes up the same role at the Women’s Weeklies group; Andy McDuff and Sylvia Auton – both publishing directors in the Specialist Division – become managing directors of the music and sport group, and country and leisure group respectively. Auton retains her responsibilities for IPC New Media. However, media buyers think there is still some portfolio polishing to be done. CIA director Jackie Almeida says: “It needs to put greater investment behind some of the weaker titles which up to now has been sadly lacking. They need to strengthen those brands.” Titles struggling recent years include Woman’s Realm, Options and TV & Satellite Week. Cinven will want a return on its 860m investment. If the company is to hit its target of 100 titles by the millennium that means 30 new titles in two years or more than one per month. Matthew and his team will have their work cut out.

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