Sport Media Group sells Front for £87,500

Sport Media Group has withdrawn its interest in the consumer magazine sector after selling mens title, Front, to independent publisher Kane for £87,500.

The publisher of the Daily and Sunday Sport newspapers is to focus on its core newspaper business after selling subsidiary Flip Media, publisher of Front, to the start-up company run by entrepreneur Dominic McVey, with immediate effect.

Andrew Fickling, chief executive of SMG, said: “Whilst we are proud that Front has flourished under our ownership we have made no secret of our intent to restructure and consolidate our businesses.

“We are delighted to have found committed new owners who believe in the team and the product and are confident they can build on its current popularity.”

SMG has been struggling on a number of fronts. In April, former Daily Sport owner, David Sullivan, and Gold Group International agreed to a loan of £1.68m to help restructure the business. Sullivan also took a 9.9 per cent stake.

The previous month, SMG made around a quarter of its 100 staff redundant to save more than £700,000 annually, as part of a move to help reduce its growing debts.

The publisher also pulled out of official circulation audits for its titles and put itself up for sale in February following revelations the previous month that it had breached banking covenants as it posted a pre-tax loss of £18.2m for the year to the end of July, 2008, and reduced the value of its newspapers by £18.4m.

Front’s new owner, 24-year-old McVey, became one of the country’s youngest millionaires at 15 through importing mini-scooters to the UK.

Under his ownership the magazine is planning to increase distribution by 13,000 units over the next three months and rejoin the ABC circulation audit.

Front claims to have increased sales to 39 658 in July, a fourth monthly increase, however as no officially audited figures exist this could not be verified.

McVey said: “The Front team have proved themselves to be creative and responsive to trends, and their approach is fresh and stylish. As an independent we believe we can be nimble and opportunistic, empowering the team to build on the success to date and collectively realise the brand’s ambitions both in print and online.”

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