A massive publishing investment in the country pursuits market has been made by Future plc after a contractual agreement to acquire magazine titles and assets managed and owned by Blaze Publishing Limited.
The two media companies have announced a seven-figure purchase and investment deal that sees Future acquire a range of Blaze’s media and events brands, and support the UK Game Fair – the replacement show to the CLA Game Fair, which failed in 2015.
The established shooting magazine portfolio of Gun Trade News, Sporting Rifle, Airgun Shooter, Clay Shooting, iShoot and Bow International transfers to Future, alongside Blaze’s successful music-making titles and successful London exhibitions.
Future – an international publishing and media group listed on the London Stock Exchange – is a leading digital business that boasts an international portfolio of over 150 magazines, apps, websites and events covering tech, games, film, music, photography and creative. It reaches over 72 million users globally every month, and has offices in London, San Francisco, New York, Sydney, and Bath, where the company began 30 years ago. It employs over 500 staff, the majority of whom are UK-based.
The shooting and countryside arenas are new to Future and the addition of the specialist shooting titles further strengthens the Future portfolio, and helps continue its vision to become the No.1 global content provider across several markets by 2018. The music events help to strengthen Future’s increased push into the event and exhibition space.
As a separate deal to acquiring the shooting titles and music division, Future has also committed a substantial cash investment into the UK Game Fair – the flagship countryside event launched by Blaze last October to replace the failed CLA Game Fair, taking place for the first time at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, on 22-24 July 2016.
Blaze Publishing’s managing director, Wes Stanton, said he is to continue at the helm of the titles under the Future banner for a year to ensure a smooth transition.
“I’m delighted and thrilled to announce this deal, which will allow the titles and events I’ve built up under the Blaze banner to continue to grow,” he said. “We have some really talented people in the magazine team who have grown with us over the years, but there’s a limit to what an owner-managed company can achieve in terms of growth. Future is the right company to take on stewardship of these brands. Its own portfolio is largely male-focused and it is a leader in digital innovation: it’s a perfect fit for the shooting magazines.”
“I am particularly excited about the investment Future is making alongside us in the UK Game Fair. Not only is there substantial financial support, we have unprecedented access to their audience of over 20 million social media followers per month, their 72 million website users and their 250,000 digital subscribers. In terms of practical support, Future has a substantial events team – with my team’s market knowledge and Future’s clear advantages in terms of size, we are really excited about the UK Game Fair fulfilling its promise as the showcase event for country sports in the UK.”
Future CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne said: “The acquisition of Blaze’s assets presents mutually beneficial opportunities in print, online and in events for both businesses. We’ll gain from their team’s specialist knowledge and insight, and the deal will further strengthen Future’s portfolio as we work towards fulfilling our long-term ambitions.”