Cabal staff jobs safe after £10m Highbury takeover

Fletcher and O’Sullivan said the deal would create job opportunities

Journalists working for Cabal Communications will not lose their jobs as a result of the company being acquired by Highbury House, according to Cabal chief executive Sally O’Sullivan.

Highbury announced its plans to buy Cabal for £10m this week and O’Sullivan said the deal would open up further job opportunities within the group.

Cabal’s portfolio includes lads’ mag Front, Real Homes Magazine, Procycling and contract publishing titles such as the IKEA Magazine. O’Sullivan, Cabal’s founder, will continue her involvement as chief executive as well as adopting the new role of editorial director of Highbury House.

She said she was looking forward to the post. “Editorial is my background – I’ve spent five years with bankers,” she told Press Gazette.

“The company has done very well in the past couple of years, but it was time to grow. And there are only two or three ways to grow. You either buy or get bought or merge – and that’s trickier.

“We have spent a great deal of time looking at the options and, without doubt, joining another big publishing house was the best way forward. If you go out and buy something else, you have to borrow huge amounts of money and you work for bankers.

“It’s better for all the staff if you take them forward and join a larger company. It means there are more job opportunities and potential to move across the group.”

Cabal’s staff of 60 are likely to move into Highbury’s “infinitely nicer, air-conditioned offices” in Islington in the summer.

The deal is expected to consolidate Highbury’s position as a top 10 consumer publisher in the UK.

Highbury chief executive Ian Fletcher said there was a good fit between the magazines. Front would sit well beside Highbury’s Fast Car magazine and Real Homes Magazine would complement Inspirations, he said.

O’Sullivan, who quit IPC to launch Cabal, stressed Highbury was also buying into Cabal’s culture – including its quirks, such as providing staff with chocolate on a Wednesday.

“They are buying Cabal, its spirit, creativity and energy,” she said.

“Cabal has been through some very tough times but we buttoned them out and didn’t give up. Cabal isn’t past tense in this deal – we are alive and well.

“I don’t feel sad because it is a terrific achievement. They paid a very good price for the company. I have been able to pay back all the shareholders who invested in us in the first place. It has been a happy result.”

The acquisition follows months of talks between the two companies. O’Sullivan said she had also received many approaches to buy Front.

“I don’t think NatMags or Condé Nast were ever interested in it, but pretty much everyone else was,” she added.

Both Fletcher and O’Sullivan said no redundancies were planned.

By Ruth Addicott

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