Grubstreet: Getaway — we won’t bamboozle you like Google

by Gill Moodie (@GrubstreetSA) RamsayMedia’s Getaway is updating its ethos to reflect a more sophisticated view of travel among the South Africa’s growing middle class – a move that the magazine’s editor, Cameron Ewart-Smith, describes as “a fundamental shift in the very fabric of our magazine”.

This also means that the iconic outdoor adventurer’s magazine that was launched in 1989 has been redesigned. You’ll see the changes in the October 2013 edition that is already available in store. They include a glossy, more sophisticated cover, bolder use of typography and pictures, more graphics and a brighter palette of colours.

Ewart-Smith told Grubstreet last week: “(The change) was borne out of looking at South African travellers and realising there is a much more diverse community of travellers than waspy, (national) park-going traditional Getaway readers.

When Stuart Lowe asked Why? five times

by Herman Manson (@marklives)Stuart Lowe, the former MD of media house Ramsay Media, sits in his newly furbished home office and proudly shows off the first report of his new research venture, WhyFive.

The SA Body Image Report 2013 focuses on body image perceptions of a wide cross section of reasonably affluent, economically active South Africans, and offers insights into the market for fashion, health and beauty products.

The Body Image report showed that nearly 80% of us would like to look better. “If you’ve ever wondered why the health and beauty industry is so enormous,” the report quips, “now you know.”

People’s reasons for exercising was quite interesting – 51% of respondents exercised to keep toned and fit (so it’s a ‘maintenance job’ rather than a ‘repair job’), and 50% said it relieved stress and improved their mood. Improving fitness was ticked by 46% of respondents, while only 42% said it was to keep their weight in check and only 28% said they exercised to lose weight (the report speculates that perhaps ‘people are increasingly realising that losing weight is a pleasant by-product of a healthy lifestyle’ and not just exercise). Close to ten percent picked ‘to socialise.’

Lowe left Ramsay Media in late 2012. There were a number of reasons for him leaving, including that he wanted to build something that he could have a stake in, his sense of a disconnection between the shareholders at Ramsay (who is gearing up to sell their stake in the business, something they had denied they were planning to do during his tenure, according to Lowe) and members of the management team, disquiet about the fate of analogue dependent media business in the digital age as well as his daughter Jenna’s fight against Primary Pulmonary Hypertension (read her blog raising awareness on the illness).

Ramsay shapes up to sell

by Herman Manson (@marklives) Ramsay Media is being whipped into shape in preparation for the sale of shares currently held by the Ramsay family (mostly through a family trust). Ramsay Media, publishers of popular magazine titles such as CAR, Getaway, Leisure Wheels and Popular Mechanics, was established 1933, and has seen four generations of Ramsay family members employed in the business.

The last members of that generation has however now left the business to pursue other career and business interests, and the family, minus direct involvement in the business apart from Alan Ramsay, its chairman who took back the day to day running of the group at the end of last year, feels it’s time to sell.

Ramsay took a firmer hand in running the business after Ramsay Media MD Stuart Lowe left at the end of 2012. His replacement, yet to be appointed, will probably be a private equity manager with media experience who will be tasked to put the business on surer financial footing and make it more appetising for possible investors.

Ramsay says the business had a very tough 2012, but had stabilised significantly in the last few months, with budgets exceeding targets. Even in the digital age publishers need to keep their eye on fundamentals such as distribution, marketing, sales targets and of course the content of their titles, notes Ramsay.

Highbury Safika on Ramsay, SA Sports Illustrated and more

by Gill Moodie (@GrubstreetSA) Highbury Safika Media is a publisher that flies largely under the radar.

Sure, we’ve all heard about controversial rugby writer Mark Keohane – who resigned from Highbury last year – and of it’s most high-profile consumer magazine, SA Rugby, but although it’s a similar-sized company to Associated Media and RamsayMedia we don’t know too much about it. This is probably because a lot of what it does is custom publishing such as for the Foschini Group.

However, the Cape Town-based company was in the news recently when MarkLives revealed that Highbury and Ramsay – the publishers of Car, Getaway and Popular Mechanics – were in merger talks last month.

This month Highbury CEO Kevin Ferguson told Grubstreet the talks were off (and he confirmed it again this week after Ramsay said the talks were still on the table).

He also told Grubstreet why the company was happy to have a low profile, why it’s taken so long to launch a website for SA Rugby and why he thinks Media24’s Sports Illustrated could have avoided shutting up shop.

EXCLUSIVE: RamsayMedia and Highbury Safika Media in talks on possible merger

by Herman Manson (@marklives) Publishing houses RamsayMedia and Highbury Safika Media (HMS) are in due diligence with the prospect of a possible merger between the two companies.

Ramsay Media Chairperson Alan T Ramsay has confirmed the authenticity of an email penned by him to RamsayMedia staff earlier today and seen by MarkLives that addresses internal speculation on the possible merger. In it he advises RamsayMedia staff of the state of negotiations between his board and HSM’s chief executive, Kevin Ferguson, their managing director, Tony Walker, and their financial director, Lindsey Allen.

Ramsay confirmed to MarkLives that no deal had yet been signed off on. Because of the due diligence process he was unable to reveal any information on the state of negotiations between RamsayMedia and HSM.

New business focus, units build a braver RamsayMedia

RamsayMedia has been undergoing a strategic transformation over the last three years under the management team lead by MD Stuart Lowe.

Wine mag bets service content will pay when journalism didn’t

Wine magazine, the wine-focused consumer monthly published by RamsayMedia, will be publishing its last edition in September 2011, after nearly 20 years in print. The magazine has only turned an annual profit three times in its existence.

RamsayMedia MD Stuart Lowe says the group had been considering for many years now what to do about Wine magazine. For years it has been building a series of conciliary activities to extend the Wine brand, including books, wine tastings and expos. All these businesses made money, but never enough to offset the losses on the magazine side, says Lowe.

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