Regional publishing boss Edward Iliffe steps in to save 160-year-old title

A 160-year-old newspaper in Stratford-upon-Avon has been saved after regional publishing boss Edward Iliffe bought it out of administration.

Iliffe, the chief executive of Iliffe Media, bought the Stratford Herald in his third joint venture with Peter and Rory Fowler after the businessmen bought the Newbury Weekly News and Highland News and Media last year.

The deal also included the free weekly title Midweek and the monthly magazine Focus.

The Herald, which published its first edition in July 1860, is the last paid-for local newspaper in Shakespeare’s birthplace Straford-upon-Avon. Bullivant Media publishes the free Stratford Observer.

The family-owned George Boyden & Son called in administrators in May after the coronavirus pandemic hit advertising revenues.

The deal will see Iliffe Media provide back office support functions for the new joint venture company, Stratford News and Media, as well as share “resources and ideas”.

James Gurney, Iliffe Media’s managing director for the central area, will take charge of the Stratford operation.

He said: “The Stratford Herald is a successful and much-loved title, I am delighted that the paper will remain independent, being owned by two families that are passionate about the importance of local papers within their communities. I am really looking forward to working with the team and helping to take the business forward.

“Over the past ten years the industry has become increasingly challenging for smaller independently-owned local newspaper publishers.

“The completion of this deal will allow us to plug into a larger group where there are opportunities to share resources and ideas, as well as to invest in exciting new initiatives that will help ensure we continue to engage with the local community, producing exceptional content that covers our entire diverse area.”

Iliffe added that he “believes in the future of local publishing across all platforms and we now look forward to working in a positive way with our new colleagues and the communities they serve”.

Iliffe’s media group now encompasses more than 20 separate newspaper brands in the Midlands, east of England and Kent.

Iliffe News and Media joined Trinity Mirror and Daily Mail and General Trust to launch Local World in 2012.

Trinity Mirror bought out the group in 2015 for £220m and backed out of a deal to sell ten newspapers in the area back to Iliffe.

As a result, the family-owned publisher rebranded as Iliffe Media and began to launch and acquire titles.

It bought 13 local titles from Johnston Press and the entirety of Kent’s KM Media Group, plus launched titles such as the paid-for weeklies the Cambridge Independent and Bishop’s Stortford Independent.

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