Caledonia closes after failing to find a buyer

Caledonia: reported ABC of 21,500

Scottish lifestyle title Caledonia has closed after it failed to attract a buyer.

Owner Scott House Publishing put the title on the market 12 months ago, but decided to pull the plug when takeover talks with a number of different publishers and a proposed management buyout fell through.

Chairman and sole shareholder of Scott House Publishing, Philip Healey, said: “When we set up Caledonia magazine in 1999 we were going to buy lots of other magazines, go into contract publishing and share the overheads.

Everything was going fine, really, until September 11. I don’t think the media advertising market in Scotland has ever really recovered its confidence.”

Healey said adverts used to be booked between six and 12 months ahead, but since September 11 advertising had dried up. “There are four major publishing houses in Scotland – Trinity, Scotsman Group, Newsquest and Johnson Press. We talked seriously with two of them about a sale and they basically said they were struggling to sell adverts. Nobody seems to have got a vision at the moment. Everyone is firefighting, they seem to be in the trenches not wanting to put their heads out.”

Healey also had talks with three independent publishers – two Scottish and one UK. One did not have the working capital and the other two did not have the “structure”, he said.

“The problem with the media industry in Scotland is that you’ve got the big groups but you haven’t got any medium-sized groups in the middle, where Caledonia would have been a nice flagship,” he added.

Caledonia reported an ABC of 21,500 and, at its peak, attracted £500,000 in advertising revenue.

Around 25 full-time staff have lost their jobs as a result of the closure. Including freelances, the toal affected is more than 30.

Some staff will be kept on for a couple of months while the business is wound down. “We tried all avenues to get a sale, but I think glossy mags are expensive beasts and the market has been against us,” said Healy.

“It kind of saddened me because Caledonia magazine, with its readership and its circulation and advertising, would go well with one of these groups, but they are all cutting back. They are all entrenched at the moment and no one is seeing daylight, so rather than let it drag on and on, we said ‘that’s that’.”

Healey said he was still open to offers from potential buyers.

By Ruth Addicott and Hamish Mackay

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