Future plc sells sport and craft titles to Immediate Media Company

Future reports weak H1 earnings, with slightly lower revenue and a loss for the quarter

The UK publisher Future plc announced that it had sold Future’s sport and craft titles including Cycling Plus, Mountain Bike UK and Simply Knitting, to Immediate Media Company. The sale also includes websites such as BikeRadar.com and Cyclingnews.com.

The move comes on the day that Future reported its half-year earnings. They showed that Future had reported a loss, with revenue in the U.S. down 14 percent to £7.3 million ($12.2 million). UK revenue was only up slightly, 2 percent to £41.5 million.

“Whilst the Board is disappointed with the results for the first half of the year, we have already taken significant actions to address the fundamental issues,” Peter Allen, Future’s Chairman, said in the earnings statement.

Future-cycling“Since appointing Zillah Byng-Maddick as CEO on 1st April we have completed a thorough review of the organisation. In the UK we are currently consulting with staff on a transformative restructuring programme which the Board believes will simplify our business, allowing it to thrive in an increasingly digital and mobile age, with a renewed focus on revenue and margin growth in core sectors.”

The beneficiary of the ‘restructuring program’ was Immediate Media, the publisher created in late 2011 by the combination of Origin Publishing, Magicalia and BBC Magazines, supported by Exponent Private Equity.

“We are delighted to have reached this agreement with Future<” Immediate CEO Tom Bureau.

“Immediate’s strategy is to create the leading special interest content and platform company, and these brands fit with our vision. We are developing our business around leading content brands, highly-engaged specialist communities, and multi-platform commercial models. Backed by Exponent Private Equity, we have a track record of investing in our brands, around content and platforms, and we are excited to be welcoming the new teams to our company.”

The brands included in the sale, like all Future plc titles, have apps inside the Apple Newsstand. But unlike many of Future’s titles, which all use its own FutureFolio digital publishing platform to build their Newsstand editions, these titles have continued to produce replica editions rather than native digital editions.

As a result, these new acquisitions will fit into the Immediate Media portfolio nicely, as Immediate is also not an advocate for native digital media, producing only a handful of native digital editions amongst its over 70 apps found inside the App Store.

Future announced that it would cut 140 staff positions in the UK, a move that follows a reduction of 40 positions in its US operations. Last month CEO Mark Wood stepped down and was replaced by the company’s CFO, Zillah Byng-Maddick.

Future-earnings-q1-2014

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Future plc reported its Q1 earnings, when they were, in fact, its half-yearly results.

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