B2B, business, professional and trade magazine publishers

This page by Tony Quinn profiles the leading business magazines and B2B publishers, which are otherwise known as:
  • business to business;
  • professional;
  • trade; and
  • business publishers.
These companies produce business magazines and websites and run conferences and exhibitions that are aimed at specific industries, such as computing, medicine, building or the law. Many, such as Emap and Relx, have closed their print operations to focus on digital delivery. Some business publishers, such as Haymarket, are active in both consumer and B2B magazines. Magforum has a page explaining the different magazine industry sectors. Business publishing is competitive and companies are often bought and sold. Some titles are owned by professional bodies; others are published by contract publishers on behalf of such bodies, eg, Management Today run by Haymarket's contract arm for the Institute of Management. Lloyd's List, a trade magazine for workers in shipping and insurance, was founded in 1734 and is one of the oldest publications. Sectors come and go, for example Reed's Computer Weekly and VNU's Computing distributed 100,000 free copies a week for 40 years but both closed around 2011. They survive as websites, ComputerWeekly.com (owned by TechTarget) and Computing.co.uk (Incisive Media).

While some business magazines are sold in newsagents or bought on subscription, the main distribution channel is controlled circulation, whereby copies are sent free to qualifying individuals and the publisher makes its money through selling advertising. Haymarket sends out 98.26% of the 37,911 copies a week of GP to local doctors as controlled circulation, ensuring it has a focused target market for advertisers.There are exceptions. For example, in the first half of 2012, New Scientist sent out 1,938 copies a week free; sold 38,559 on the news stand; and had 89,845 subscriptions. Across the sector, three-quarters of business magazines' revenue comes from advertising. In 2005, Reed Business Information (RBI) set up rbi-newstrade.co.uk, website that supported independent newsagents selling its 14 business magazines because 'some large retails groups are de-listing high profit, specialist titles'.

Trade exhibitions built on mailing lists for magazines are vital sources of revenue for B2B publishers. These exhibitions are also a source of contacts – for readers and advertisers – as well as reinforcing relationships. By 2010, most trade publishers had B2B websites based on the print content, a decade later many of these had turned into pure websites.

The ABC audits about 850 B2B magazines. In total, there are estimated to be about 5,000 trade magazines.

Effect of online media

B2B websites have affected the readership of printed business publications. A survey of 20 UK B2B publishers in May 2005 said all respondents agreed that websites had reduced the usefulness of their magazines. The survey was commissioned by the Association of Online Publishers, which found that 82 per cent of business decision-makers used B2B websites regularly and spent an average of an hour a day using them. However, those same publishers are behind many of the B2B websites. A third of them said that 30 per cent of their business publishing turnover came through online sources. And 61 per cent expected to be in that position within two years. The leading B2B publisher, Reed, has a global strategy based on electronic publishing and has sold titles it cannot exploit online. In 2008, it tried to sell all its print titles, and in April 2017 announced the sale of New Scientist.

B2B publishing information

For more sources, go to Links. Both Mintel and Datassential produce reports on business publishing. These cost £300-£900, but may be held by specialist public libraries, such as the City Business Library in London. Summaries are given on the websites. The PPA represents business and professional publishers and organises business media conferences and exhibitions. Member companies include: Centaur, Euromonitor; Emap; Faversham House; Haymarket; Incisive Media; Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining; and William Reed.

Angel Business Communications

Angel Business Communications was founded in 1981 as a business-to-business magazine and website publisher, and conference and exhibition organiser. Most of its activities are related to new technology, including solar power (Smart Solar, since 2017), software technologies (Transport as a Service, 2018, Digitalisation World, 2015) and micro chips (Silicon Semiconductor, 2017).


Has 32 trade magazines; 21 exhibitions; 150 conferences and 25 B2B websites. Leading titles include Creative Review, The Lawyer, Marketing Week, Money Marketing, New Media Age. Bought several titles from Miller-Freeman in 1999, including The Engineer, which Graham Sherren had edited before founding Centaur. Centaur bought Real Homes from Hachette in February 2009 to rebrand Move Or Improve? Mad.co.uk was Centaur's online community for media, marketing, advertising and design, and became a jobs portal.


Emap focuses on five sectors: construction; architecture; retail; health, government and environment; and the Middle East. It describes its products as networks: MEED (Middle-East Economic Digest); New Civil Engineer; Construction news; Retail Jeweller; Refrigeration and Air Conditioning; Ground Engineering; Heating and Ventilation News; Local Government Chronicle; Materials Recycling World; Nursing Times; The Architectural Review; Drapers; and The Architects’ Journal. In 2010, it was publishing about 40 B2B magazines, but has closed down most of the print operations in favour of websites. The collapse of Emap as Britain's second-largest publisher, saw its trade titles split off. In 2008, the professional magazines division was sold to Incisive owner Apax and Guardian Media Group. Emap also sold its Media Business Insight division, publisher of BRAD (British Rates and Data), a directory that lists advertising media, including magazines and websites, in 2012, and began to describe itself as a 'business-to-business multiplatform media group'. This is how Emap described itself in late 2017:
  • EMAP is a content, subscription and networking business. We connect influential people and organisations to a high-value network of decision-makers, data and ideas through our industry-leading portfolio of brands.
  • EMAP's purpose is to drive professional progress for ambitious individuals and companies in Fashion, Architecture, Health and Construction.
Emap profile

Focus Business Media

There was a storyline in BBC Radio 4's Archers soap about Tom Archer getting a great deal on a piece of farm machinery – but then losing out when it is stolen from a field (he left the keys in it!). I remember thinking 'There must be a magazine for that' and, sure enough, there is, Farm Machinery Locator. It's one of several weekly classified magazines for the automotive sector from Peterborough-based Focus Business Media:
  • Truck and Plant Locator (W) the company's first magazine, launched in 1996 as Commercial Vehicle Retailer
  • Van Buyer Weekly magazine launched in 1998 with www.vanlocator.co.uk website following in 2001
  • Commercial Vehicle Dealer (M) for truck and van dealers since 2002 (www.cvdealer.co.uk)
  • Plantlocator Weekly (www.plantlocator.co.uk)
  • Farm Machinery Locator (fortnightly) launched in August 2013
Focus was bought up in 2016 by US-based Sandhills Publishing as its Sandhills East Publishing subsidiary.


Hamerville publishes about a dozen business magazines, mainly for the construction and motor engineering sectors, such as Professional Builder and Professional Motor Mechanic.


Haymarket publishes more than 100 B2B magazines and business websites as well as associated directories and exhibitions in the UK and internationally. Leading titles include: Management Today, MIMS, General Practitioner, Marketing and Campaign.

Incisive Media

Acquisitive trade magazine publisher, which in December 2007 gained control of Emap's business magazines when Guardian Media Group and Apax, Incisive's private equity owner, bought out the publisher for £1bn. The deal was set to be completed in April 2008. Describes itself as a 'B2B information provider'.

Incisive had already been active in eight markets: financial risk management, retail investment, insurance, mortgages, capital markets/financial IT, marketing, photography and private equity. Addresses these audiences with magazines, conferences and exhibitions, B2B websites, newsletters, contract publishing titles and databases. Has about 30 magazines run by three divisions and VNU, which it took control of in January 2007:

  • Financial services. Titles include Investment Week, Bloomberg Money and Your Mortgage.
  • Risk management: Risk, Asia Risk and Basel Alert Insurance & legal services: Post, Insurance Age and Legal Week.
  • Marketing / specialist: Search Engine Strategies, Search Engine Watch, Hedge Funds & Investment Technology and British Journal of Photography.
  • Incisive Media – VNU Business Publications, such as Computing.co.uk.
Incisive runs 20 B2B websites, most based on its business magazines, covering business technology, jobs & recruitment, business & finance and consumer technology.

Incisive was founded as City Financial Communications in 1994 by Tim Weller to launch Investment Week. Renamed as Incisive Media in July 2000 after buying up Timothy Benn Publishing. Floated on the London Stock Exchange in December 2000, raising £34.7 million. Has since grown through acquisition, buying up mortgage specialist Matching Hat Ltd (2001), finance specialist Risk Waters Group (2003) and US finance data group Waters Information Services, Inc.

In October 2006, it was announced that Apax Partners was to buy up the group, delisting it from the stock market. The private equity group took three-quarters of Incisive and other groups, including Ingenious Media Active Capital.


Informa was created in 1998, with the merger of IBC Group plc and Lloyd's of London Press. Informa describes itself as a 'business intelligence, academic publishing, knowledge and events business, operating in the Knowledge and Information Economy'. Informa is listed on the London Stock Exchange and a member of the FTSE 100. Its motto is 'Connection. Insight. Advantage.' Its shows include the Monaco Yacht Show and the Game Developers Conference.

The end of 2017 saw Informa mount a bid to take over rival UBM, a deal worth £5.6 billion that UBM accepted a few weeks later. Informa was at 86 in the FTSE rankings; UBM was 125. With market capitalisations of £5.6bn and £3.4bn, the combined £9bn group would sit at about 53 in the FTSE100, compared with Relx at 35 (£14.8bn).

The logic behind the bid was to create the world's largest business-to-business events and conferences group. Both are big in North American operations, while Informa is the bigger in Europe and the Middle East. UBM leads in Asia, a business it had built up since 1994.

Chief executive Stephen Carter estimated Informa would cut costs by £60 million a year. Carter will be chief executive of the combined group of 11,000 employees.

Ironically, UBM had tried to buy Informa a decade ago when it was the bigger group. Both companies had their roots in trade magazines, but they had expanded by moving away from publishing in the past 20 years. The extent of change is demonstrated by the fact that 60 per cent of UBM-Informa’s combined annual revenue of £2.6b would come from events.

Among Informa's titles are Lloyd's List, part of the group's business intelligence division, which was created in a London coffee shop in 1734, and the Philosophical Magazine, an academic journal that dates back to 1798. It also owns Taylor and Francis, the academic publisher.


Mediatel was founded in 1981 and specialises in advertising and media intelligence. Its main products are:
  • Mediatel Connected, a display advertising database covering 10,000 publications and 26,000 online channels
  • British Rates and Data directory (BRAD), was a monthly subscription publication that now runs online giving advertising information on 12,300 UK media titles
  • J-ET, a trading system that claims to handle 90% of all UK national radio advertising
  • Newsline bulletins.
The company also has an events division. It describes itself as sitting at the centre of the media industry, connecting buyers and sellers.

Relx (was Reed Business Information)

Reed Business Information was the largest UK business information publisher and a subsidiary of Reed Elsevier, which rebranded itself as Relx group in 2014. Relx describes itself as: a global provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. It is focused on four markets:
  • scientific, technical and medical;
  • risk and business analytics;
  • legal;
  • and exhibitions.
In February 2008, Reed Elsevier tried to sell its print titles. However, it withdrew the sale because of the credit crunch and potential buyers not being prepared to pay the asking price. The importance and revenue potential of exhibitions was demonstrated by the fact that the company decided not to sell off trade shows related to the magazines. Reed Elsevier has a portfolio of about 15,000 magazines, books, CD-Roms and web-based services that operate globally. Strategy has been to focus on electronic business information (Reed sold the UK's biggest magazine publisher IPC). Reed Elsevier was divided into four sectors:
  • science and medical published 500 journals and handbooks;
  • legal, including the online database LexisNexis;
  • education (included Harcourt Education in the US); and
  • business.
Reed Business Information had a turnover of £3.3 billion in 2014 from 40 magazines, including Computer Weekly, Farmers Weekly, Personnel Today,Flight International, New Scientist, Variety and Estates Gazette.

UBM (now Informa)

UBM is an international media and business information company based in London. The start of 2018 saw Informa take over UBM, in a deal worth £5.6 billion. UBM dates back to 1918, when it was founded by David Lloyd George, who was still the prime minister. He created United Newspapers by buying the Daily Chronicle and Lloyds Weekly. He sold the business to private investors in 1927. It has three trade magazine divisions:
  • PR Newswire, which distributes news stories;
  • CMP for technology, healthcare, the built environment, lifestyle, fashion and ingredients media. Run as four regional divisions; and
  • Commonwealth Business Media bought by UBM in July 2006 (trade and transport products).
UBM had owned publications as varied as the Daily Express and Punch in the 1980s.

VNU (see Incisive)

Bought by Incisive Media in January 2007. Formerly a Dutch-owned publisher. Leading UK titles include:
  • Accountancy Age weekly tabloid paper;
  • Computer Active: fortnightly consumer computer magazine launched in 1988;
  • Computing weekly tabloid paper;
  • CRN weekly tabloid for corporate computing;
  • Financial Director monthly;
  • Information World Review monthly;
  • IT Week; and
  • Personal Computer World, the UK's first consumer specialist computer monthly.
In December 2006, VNU announced it was selling its UK titles to venture capital specialist 3i and shedding 4,000 workers as it restructed globally to focus on media research such as TV viewing statistics.

William Reed

Focuses on the food and drink industry, covering grocery, retailing, drinks and hospitality, and food manufacturing. B2B magazines include: British Baker; Convenience Store; and the Morning Advertiser.

Wilmington Group plc

Wilmington floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1995 and has annual sales of more than £80 million. In June 2007, it announced it was to focus on three areas:
  • legal & regulatory training and publications such as Solicitors Journal;
  • healthcare: Agence de Presse Médicale and titles such as Healthcare Equipment & Supplies;
  • media and entertainment, including the Hollis PR directory and the Production and Casting Report.
Its design, construction, power, catering and motoring titles – including Blueprint, FX, Tunnels & Tunnelling and What Van? accounting for £20m of annual turnover under its Wilmington Media and Dewberry Redpoint subsidiaries – were sold to business publisher Progressive Media for £12m in August. In early 2008, Wilmington paid £5.8m for AP Information Services, a provider of directories and mailing lists. In December 2006, Wilmington took over weekly journalists' paper Press Gazette and appointed a former editor and publisher, Tony Loynes, to run it.