Events. Immediate Media, the UK’s most profitable magazines group, is expanding further into consumer exhibitions with the acquisition of the six-year-old River Street Events, which organises food and gardening events. It is acquiring a majority of the company immediately and will buy the remaining shares in 18 months. Its most successful annual events include the BBC Good Food Show and BBC Gardeners’ World Live (linked to Immediate magazines) which together attract attract over 250,000 visitors. In 2017, the company had revenue of £6.9m and recorded a £364k loss.
It is thought that the price paid will depend on trading in 2019-20, during which the events will continue to be managed by its founder Laura Biggs. The initial payment is no more than £2m. In January, Immediate acquired Upper Street Events, producers of some of the UK’s largest specialist consumer enthusiast exhibitions including the Cycle Show, Festival of Quilts, Move It, London Art Fair and The London Cruise Show. It said then that integrating Upper Street into existing operations would more than double the exhibition company’s £1m profits – even before creating new events. This latest acquisition brings Immediate’s annualised events revenue to £19m – about 7-8% of the total. It is hungry for more.
Immediate is only the latest UK magazine company to chase consumer exhibition profits. Significantly, most UK-based exhibitions companies are preoccupied by B2B not consumer shows and passed up the opportunity to bid for either of the companies acquired by Immediate. The privately-owned Media10 is the country’s largest consumer show organiser with £45m revenue, including the 110-year-old Ideal Home Show. But even it is diversifying into trade shows in the UK and internationally in order to sustain profit growth. However, media everywhere is chasing “experiential” revenues because consumers are responsive. Immediate might just be stepping up its efforts at the right time.
The company – a wholly-owned division of Burda – publishes across special interest sectors, including Food, Cycling, Gardening, Parenting, Weddings and Crafts. Its 75 consumer brands include: BBC Gardeners’ World magazine, BBC Good Food, Mollie Makes, Cycling Plus, Hitched, and Britain’s most profitable magazine, the Radio Times. Immediate has a monthly audience of some 19m people, sells 75m magazines annually, has 90 licensed international editions, is digitally much smarter the magazine-media average – and keeps growing. That’s why its exhibitions strategy is worth watching.