Contract, custom and customer publishers

(page 1: Absolute to Just) (Kava to Zone) (page 3: tables)

by Tony Quinn

This is the second of three web pages by Tony Quinn listing leading magazine publishing agencies, which are otherwise known as contract magazine publishers or customer magazine publishers – the main UK term:

The first page describes how the industry works.

Kava Media

Publishing and marketing agency whose titles include Luxury & Supercar Quarterly for the motor industry. Contact: Kava Media, PO Box 23, GL11 5WA.


MediaClash was set up in 2006 by former Future chief Greg Ingham and Jane Ingham, a former managing director of Future UK. It was based around the acquisition of Surf Media, a publisher of City-based magazines. Clients include Design Objectives, and Savills. Greg Ingham is also chairman of games website developer Eurogamer Network. In May 2007, the two companies set up a joint venture, Euroclash, to specialise in the video games industry.


Headed up by Andy Leach and John Edwards. Clients include P&O Cruises and BMI. Closed in 2010.

New Crane

New Crane was set up to publish Sainsbury's Magazine in 1993 by Michael Wynn-Jones and his wife, television chef Delia Smith. In January 2005, the company was bought by Seven Publishing. Seven founded by managing director Seamus Geoghegan and chairman Mike Potter, both of whom had been at Redwood (Potter was one of the three founders). Seven established Seven Squared in 2007.
Seven profile

News Magazines

Consumer magazine division of New International also has customer magazine arm. Took licence for Sky magazine – the UK's biggest circulation title for BSkyB's 8m subscribers – from John Brown in December 2006
News International profile

Newsdesk Media

Founded 1997. Appears to have shut down in 2014 (website waas Chairman and co-founder was Anthony Hilton, financial editor of London's Evening Standard and a former editor at Redwood. Clients include Airbus, AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe, Holmes Place and New York Mercantile Exchange. Offices in London and Washington DC.


Founded 2003. Clients include Fat Face, Mappin & Webb and Rolls-Royce.

Press Association

The Press Association provides editorial copy for magazines and newspapers, including IPC's weeklies. Titles have included Player's Club for the Professional Footballers' Association. Has offices in London and Howden, East Yorkshire.

PSP Rare

The website ( closed down some time after July 2013. Founded in January 2006 when PSP Communications (founded 2002) bought the majority shareholding of Rare Publishing from public relations group Chime Communications. Rebranded as PSP Rare Publishing a year later. Chime retains a minority shareholding. Rare had been founded in 1986 and was formerly known as AMD Brass Tacks. PSP Rare clients include the Corporation of London, Kia Motors, Somerfield, British Heart Foundation, Carlson Wagon Lits, Pride London, Teacher Development Agency, UK Trade and Investment, and Lloyds TSB.


Founded in 1988 by three national newspaper journalists. Specialises in communications for employees. Clients include Camelot, Bupa and BA. Website makes a free offer: 'If you have a publication that is looking a bit tired, send us a copy. We will revamp a page or two and provide a detailed critique of improvements we think could be made.'

Prompt Marketing

Prompt is run by Abby Trow (former editor of B2B interior design title idFX) and Johnny Tucker (former deputy at contract design magazine FX and editor of retail magazine Red) and graphic designer Junko Fuwa (ex-art director on design and architecture monthly Blueprint). The company has both customer magazine and PR/communications operations. Clients include the Spanish Embassy Commercial Office in London, for which Prompt produces Spanish, a monthly about the country's interior design products for architects, designers, specifiers and hoteliers. The title is translated into several languages and published by Spanish embassy offices around the world. Prompt in based in north London.

Publicis Blueprint

Founded 1999. Now a subsidiary of French advertising agency Publicis Groupe. Clients include Asda, Debenhams, Prudential, Toni & Guy and Visit Britain. In 2007, Publicis Blueprint adopted a strategy of expansion by publishing titles that were funded from selling advertising. However, there were some problems, resulting in the closure of Blockbuster Preview. The strategy was switched back to one based on client fees. The agency resigned from contracts for hotel chain magazines De Vere Deluxe, Mal Life and Du Vin.

Redactive Media

Founded in 1981 as Centurion Publishing Group. Specialises in professional institutes, charities, membership organisations and trade unions. Clients include Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, Royal British Legion. Sells advertising for Reader's Digest.

Redhouse Lane

Founded in 1988. Clients include Barclays, Highways Agency, Royal Bank of Scotland and EDF Energy.

Redwood Publishing

Founded in 1984. Once owned by BBC Worldwide, now a subsidiary of AMV BBDO. Second-biggest agency; was largest agency until overtaken by John Brown Citrus. Describes itself as the world's leading content agency; 'We are content leaders. We create content leaders. We are Redwood.' Clients include Boots, Harvey Nichols, M&S and Volvo. Redwood co-founder Mike Potter has been identified by advertising trade magazine Campaign (of which he is a former publisher) as 'the undisputed father of customer publishing'.
Redwood profile

River Publishing

Founded 1994 by Nicola Murphy (marketing and sales director) and Jane Wynn (editorial director). Subsidiary of River Group. Clients include Holland & Barrett, News International (newstand title Sunday Times Travel launched in 1993) and Superdrug. In January 2008, announced plans to bring back women’s monthly Shape, which had been closed by Dennis four years earlier.

Seven Squared Publishing

Formed by the merger of Square One with Sainsbury's and Delicious magazine publisher Seven in 2007.

In December 2010, Seven launched £1.79 monthly iPad app Project (, 'an app that looks like a style magazine but acts like a website' for the Virgin Group. Design, entertainment, technology and entrepreneurship were the editorial themes with blogs on news, design, film, fashion and technology. The editor was former FHM and Arena editor Anthony Noguera.

In April 2010, Guardian News & Media closed its Guardian Creative division, and contracted out all its commercially funded supplements and website work to Seven Squared. In October 2009, Seven Squared set up an agency, Blue Door Media, to seeek work from small to medium-sized clients. It has also expanded its B2B operations.

In late 2009, Seven split off its consumer arm as Eye to Eye Media. Clients include Sainsbury's, Waterstone’s and the Metropolitan Police.

Show Media

Contract publisher founded by former Esquire editor Peter Howarth.
  • Dad  April 2003 pilot on newsstands and given to fathers-to-be attending scans in selected hospitals. From September that year, NHS distribution was nationwide twice a year, reaching a potential 670,000 fathers. Edited by Jack O'Sullivan, a founder of Fathers Direct, the national information centre on fatherhood
  • Newspaper Magazine (bi-annual; Nov 2003). Used footballers as models for features on sport and fashion. Contract title for Absolute Publications. Broadsheet size in style of newspaper sports pages
  • Style Journal (quarterly). Luxury, fashion and lifesytle title for US newspaper publisher Dow Jones distributed with The Wall Street Journal Europe.
  • ST men's style magazine twice a year for the Sunday Telegraph

Sonder (was Summersault)

Founded in 1992 by husband and wife team Brian and Bernadette Jeavons as Summersault. In 2006, was taken over by marketing communications company PM&M, which in turn is part of Motivcom plc. Sonder produces magazines, newspapers, newsletters and other corporate literature, as well as offering print buying, advertising and promotions. Leamington-based Sonder has clients such as Whitbread Group (Costa/Premier Inn/Beefeater), National Grid, Tesco, Empire Cinemas and Triumph Motorcycles.

Spear Media

Contract publisher headed by journalist William Cash. Publications include Spear’s Wealth Management Survey, a quarterly sent to 25,000 wealthy people and families across Europe, and Annabel's Wine & Cellar Magazine, for the London night club.

Specialist Publications

Founded in 1969. Subsidiary of advertising agency Omnicom. Clients include Camelot, NatWest and Peugeot.

Square One Group (Seven Squared)

Founded in 1994 by Sean King, who had been a fashion and entertainment journalist. Merged with Seven in 2007 to form Seven Squared. Clients include the RAC, English Heritage, Churchill Insurance, the Home Office and Vision Express. LighterLife became a newsstand title in January, 2006. Magazine for Toni & Guy hair salons distributed in H&M shops and vice-versa.


Formed in July 2005 when Toby Smeeton, Matt Beaven and Chris Lee left Just to set out on their own. Publishes customer magazines for British Gas, Lloyds TSB and Toyota. Spaces, the Miller Homes title, was launched in 2003 with a circulation of about 50,000. As well as being posted to customers and given away in show homes, the magazine has been given away with BBC Good Homes and local newspapers.

Ten Alps Publishing (now Zinc Media)

Ten Alps Publishing was one of the four biggest customer publishers, specialising in B2B. Since early 2016, Ten Alps has traded as Zinc Media and refocused on television production. It is part of Ten Alps plc, a maker of factual television programmes founded by Bob Geldof and Alex Connock in 1998. In 2006, Ten Alps bought McMillan-Scott, a contract publisher of niche trade magazines and titles for the public sector, for £12 million. Later in the year, it bought Cameron Publishing, which ran publications for the national and local chambers of commerce, for £800,000. The group then reorganised its operations into broadcast, digital and communications. In 2007, it took over Mongoose Media, which sells advertising in international magazines such as Newsweek, National Geographic and Time Out, for £3.4m.
By the end of 2007, Ten Alps was the fourth-largest customer publisher in the UK, according to Marketing. In March 2008, Ten Alps bought B2B publishing company Sovereign Publications.
The strategy of Ten Alps is unusual in that it uses its magazines to supply content for internet TV sites, so people can search for and view videos relevant to their work. The company has launched Teachers TV, Public TV, Vets TV, KentTV, among others.
In total, Ten Alps claims to publish 600 titles a year for associations, institutes, national and local government, public sector bodies, membership groups and corporate clients. Titles include: Auto Service & Repair, Chemistry & Industry and Optometry Today.

The Publishing Agency

Website no longer hosted (was

Goes back to 1998 with founding of TPD (The Publishing Department). Bought by Interpublic Group's McCann Erickson Worldwide in 2001 along with its US arm Fluent Communications. (Both were run under The Publishing Agency International, McCann-Erickson custom publishing group.) TPD then changed its name to Just Customer Communication. In July 2005, Interpublic sold Just to its management team, led by Simon Kelly, co-founder, along with the US operations – Fluent Communications and The Publishing Agency. All three companies rebranded as The Publishing Agency. Clients include Lexus, Home Office and Bluewater.

Think Publishing

Founded 1999. Specialised in environmental, travel and cultural sectors to become 'the UK’s leading membership publishing agency'. Claims to be the only customer publisher to have won PPA Publisher of the Year. Clients include Ramblers' Association, Royal Parks and the Soil Association. Think calls itself a 'membership communications agency' for charities and corporations that need to engage a core group of members or stakeholders. Among its products, it publishes non-fiction books for clients that are sold globally as an imprint of Bloomsbury, one of the UK's biggest publishing houses.


Founded in 1999, with list of titles that is strong in sports, such as RBS Six Nations (one of several publications produced for Absolute Publishing) and Olympic Review for the International Olympic Committee, a quarterly distributed in 200 countries.

Wardour Communications

Founded 1996. Stresses the journalism roots of its founders in creating 'brand newsrooms' for clients, requiring an approach more akin to journalism than the traditional communications or marketing function. Clients include Camelot, HSBC and Lloyd's of London.

Zero Collective

Founded in 2002; based in Woburn, Beds. Paul Dedman is creative director and Alex Geudon is client services director. Contract publishing clients include the écurie25 sports car club.

Zinc Media (Ten Alps)

Trading name for Ten Alps since 2016.


Founded in 2000, though directors date back to Manchester United magazine in 1993. In late 2017, Cognizant, a US technology services company, announced it was taking control of Zone. Clients include the BBC, Gillette and

Tables: top customer publishers