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. Some business publishers, such as Haymarket, are active in both consumer and B2B magazines. The difference between the sectors is explained here. Business publishing is very 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 more than 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 very focused targete 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. More than three-quarters of business magazines' revenue comes from advertising. In 2005, Reed Business Information (RBI) set up a website to support independent newsagents selling 14 business magazines because 'some large retails groups are de-listing high profit, specialist titles'.

Trade exhibitions built around 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. Most trade publishers have B2B websites based on the print content. As well as being another source of revenue, websites are important in marketing the magazines.

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 more than 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 more than 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.

B2B publishing information

For more sources, go to Links. Both Mintel and Key Note 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 has a Business and Professional division and runs a Magazines and Business Media conference and exhibition. Member companies include: CMP Information; DMG World Media (UK); Emap Communications; Reed Business Information; Faversham House Group; Haymarket Business Publications; Incisive Media; Infoconomy; Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland; TSL Education; VNU Business Publications; William Reed Publishing; Wilmington Group.

Centaur   Back to top
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 is Centaur's online community for media, marketing, advertising and design.
Emap's trade magazines focus on five industries: construction, retail, media, automotive and the public sector. It publishes about 40 B2B magazines, such as Nursing Times, New Civil Engineer and BRAD, the monthly directory that lists advertising media, including magazines and websites. In 2008, the professional magazines division was sold to Incisive owner Apax and Guardian Media Group. Emap describes itself as 'business-to-business multiplatform media group'.
Hamerville Back to top
Hamerville publishes about a dozen business magazines, mainly for the construction and motor engineering sectors, such as Professional Builder and Professional Motor Mechanic. Contact: Hamerville Magazines Limited, Regal House, Regal Way, Watford, Hertfordshire WD24 4YF. Tel: +44 (0) 1923 237799
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 Back to top
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 which spent £22m on an 11 per cent stake, the rest.

Reed Business Information Back to top
Reed Business Information is the largest UK business information publisher and a subsidiary of Reed Elsevier. In February 2008, Reed Elsevier decided to sell off all 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 exhibitions 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 is divided into four sectors:

  • science and medical publishes more than 500 journals and handbooks;
  • legal, including the online database LexisNexis;
  • education (includes Harcourt Education in the US); and
  • business.

Reed Business Information has a turnover of £3.3 billion with more than 40 magazines, including Computer Weekly, Farmers Weekly, Personnel Today, Flight International, New Scientist, Variety and Estates Gazette.

United Business Media
UBM is an international media and business information company based in London with 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 transportation products).

VNU (see Incisive) (see Back to top
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 & hospitality and food manufacturing. B2B magazines include: British Baker; Convenience Store; and the Morning Advertiser.

Wilmington Group plc Back to top
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 - which included Blueprint, FX, Tunnels & Tunnelling and What Van? and accounted 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.

Business magazines - back to top

Benham Publishing