The Guardian predicts a difficult future for paid for magazines


Media Guardian yesterday turned the spotlight on to paid for magazines with a pair of features that underline how difficult magazine publishing in the UK has become.

Firstly John Plunkett looked at some of the more general issues facing the industry – lack of new launches, closure of many titles, difficulty in monetising iPad and digital editions – while Peter Kirwan put Haymarket’s business under the microscope.

If anything it is the latter feature that puts the the industry’s problems into sharp relief. Haymarket, once a bastion of sucessful consumer titles with a thriving B2B sector, is now heavily in debt with (and this is astonishing) Thenhurst Agricultural Ltd, the Haymarket Group subsidiary that owns Lord Heseltine’s 18th century mansion and 55-acre estate in Thenford, Northamptonshire, offered as security to RBS to make them feel a little more comfortable about the £126 million the company owes.

Banks tend to see debt in a very different way now than they did a few years back and with an operating profit of just £15 million that debt is sure to feel like a lead weight around Chair Rupert Heseltine’s shoulders. The shock news about the economy probably won’t help either.

Ultimately Haymarket, and to be fair a lot of its rivals, invested massively between 1995-2008 in expanding into other countries. Now the with the Internet delievering online global media brands (ie largely US based ones) and with core media brands in decline that move doesn’t look quite so savvy.

Haymarket also faces the problem of monetising B2B brands which will be further exacerbated this year by the retraction in the public sector – one-third of Haymarket’s B2B revenues come from this source.

Not all is doom and gloom. According to The Guardian ‘Publishers are nothing if not optimistic. Advertising revenue in the consumer magazine sector was up 5% in 2010 and is forecast to rise another 2% this year.’

I do think though 2011 will see a major shake up in magazine publishing. There will be acquisitions, consolidation and closures. Most of all publishers will look to protect their key brands by investing heavily in digital accompaniments such as apps, iPad mags and websites. It is going to be an interesting ride.

Tory cuts – Aldershot Lido threatened with closure


I guess this type of story is going to become all to familiar over the coming months as communities battle to stop councils from saving a few thousand quid by closing Lidos.

For me Lidos like Aldershot have huge architectural significance (as well as being fantastic places to hang out) and closing them is a horrific type of cultural vandalism.

It’s no surprise that the last serious Lido cull was in the 80s and early 90s – wonder who was in power then?

Anyhow here are few words from the local paper – the full story is here…

ALDERSHOT’S historic lido could be closed as part of council plans to cut £1million of public services next year.

The outdoor swimming complex is thought to be one of the services to the public that might face the axe in Aldershot and Farnborough as Rushmoor Borough Council struggles to cut £2.4m from its budget in April.

The proposal is understood to be one of those being considered behind closed doors by councillors.

The threat to the lido is not the first it has faced in its 80-year history. The pool, which was used as one of the venues for the 1948 Olympic Games, has consistently run at a loss, costing taxpayers almost a quarter of a million pounds last year after the dismal summer weather in 2009 meant visitor numbers were down.

Although it costs less than a third of both the Aldershot indoor pools and Farnborough leisure centre, it is thought that the cost is considered high for a facility that is only open for a few months each year, despite being enjoyed by up to 50,000 visitors.

Astrid is four tomorrow – 2007 seems a long, long time ago


My youngest daughter Astrid is four tomorrow. Four! How did all that time pass so quickly. I nearly missed her birth as 1, she popped out very quickly, 2, you try finding a parking space in Homerton hospital. Lola’s first comment when she meet her was that she smelt of egg.

I was going to say that one day she will do great things, but.. she does great things already.

Here she is with Lola at the East Anglian Railway Museum re-enacting Blur’s first ever gig. I think she is Damon to Lola’s Graham.

And below here she is at Somerset House in London



And on the boat in Orford Ness