Future uncertain for mag distributor Comag as joint owners Hearst and Condé Nast pull out

Two of the UK’s biggest consumer magazine publishers, Condé Nast Britain and Hearst UK, have said they are to “withdraw” from magazine distributor Comag, which together they jointly own.

The announcement came in a short statement today. Press Gazette was told there was no additional comment from either company.

Hearst UK owns 65 per cent of Comag, with the remaining 35 per cent held by Condé Nast Publications.

The move leaves Comag, which was founded in 1977, facing an uncertain future.

A spokesperson said Comag “will be consulting with its staff and will also remain in close contact with its clients and suppliers”.

They added: “The shareholders are committed to this being a thorough, well-managed process for all parties.”

According to its website, Comag Group has a “23 per cent share of the UK newsstand market”.

Hearst UK publishes 24 magazines and website titles, including: Good Housekeeping, Elle, Harper’S Bazaar, Esquire, Red and Men’s Health.

Condé Nast Britain publishes 16 magazines and websites including: Vogue, GQ, Tatler, Wired and Vanity Fair.

Comag declined to comment.

Comments

3 thoughts on “Future uncertain for mag distributor Comag as joint owners Hearst and Condé Nast pull out”

  1. When I started publishing in 1972, there was a viable alternative to Smiths distribution, via a network of van salesmen and associated small wholesalers; supplied by distributors including Moore-Harness, David Gold, Walton Press, Thames News, etc. They would deal with all the naughty mags, obviously; plus the underground press, and all sorts of small titles which Smiths or Menzies wouldn’t touch. At that point even Private Eye and Time Out used to go through Moore-Harness, because W H Smugs wouldn’t handle them. When my distributor, Diamond, went down last year, I decided to give up on Smiths and the rest of the news trade, and we now distribute free, in singles and bulk. At least we can now put the mags where the readers want to find them, rather than rely on Smiths and their ghastly “Promotion” (read “Bribe”) system. I felt we were banging out heads against a brick wall with Smiths, trying to get magazines in peoples hands. I suspect many publishers regard them as their main enemy.

  2. This is just symptomatic of the far bigger problem that been festering for years.
    WH Smith’s have held publishers to ransom for years to prop up their failing business model. And by having a virtual monopoly on the route to the newstrade (not that this is any holy grail) it has forced distributors and publishers out of business. Many for good.
    As a small independent publisher we have used Comag for years. They are as good as any out there but are constantly being shafted by Smiths’.
    Ask yourself this? Is there any logical reason why the share price of Smiths has stayed aloft during the terminal decline of magazine publishing?
    It has simply squeezed margins out of existence.
    Just left with the pips now.

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