New life for RBI brands

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Buyers of shuttered titles plan to revive properties with investment, online growth Mark Lefens, president of Marketing & Technology Group, said his company's recent acquisition of Hotels won't be followed by a fast resale of the publication. “We're in it for the long haul,” he said. “It's not going to be a quick flip on this one.” Marketing & Technology Group, which serves the hospitality, foodservice, and red meat and poultry processing industries, produced a June issue of Hotels and plans to relaunch its website. Hotels Investment Outlook, a sibling publication, will resume publication in the fourth quarter. Hotels was one of 23 magazines that RBI shuttered in May after trying to unload them for almost a year. In the weeks following the announcement of the closings, the company sold many of the titles to former RBI managers:
  • Dan Hogan, former publisher of Hotels, bought the magazine from RBI and then resold it to Marketing & Technology Group.
  • MB Media, formed by former Reed publishers Tony Mancini and Rick Blesi, acquired Construction Equipment, Professional Builder and several other assets.
  • Peerless Media, formed by managers of what was RBI's supply chain group, acquired RBI's Logistics Management, Material Handling Product News, Modern Materials Handling and Supply Chain Management Review. Peerless is operating as a subsidiary of EH Publishing, which produces a suite of media products serving the technology and construction sectors.
  • CFE Media, a new publishing company formed by Jim Langhenry and Steven Rourke, previously RBI group publishers, purchased Control Engineering, Consulting-Specifying Engineer and Plant Engineering. (CFE's name is short for Content for Engineers.)
  • Financial terms of the deals have not been disclosed. The new owners have vowed to reinvest in the various brands, grow their audiences and create new marketing channels, particularly online. “The publications fit our criteria,” said Ken Moyes, CEO of EH Publishing. “Because of their position in the marketplace, it's a b-to-b model that we think can successfully grow in all media platforms, and not all of those have been taken advantage of in Reed's structure.” Moyes cited as an example EH's plan to expand its RoboDevelopment Conference & Expo to include content from Logistics Management and Modern Materials. “These are entrepreneurs who see a future with these magazines and think they have a better mousetrap,” said Mike Parker of media investment bank AdMedia Partners. “They picked up [the brands] at a low price—if anything at all—and see growth potential.” Parker said the spate of RBI deals is a sign of things to come in b-to-b media M&A activity. “The [buyers] are guys who can produce publications out of the garage and do it at greatly reduced overhead.” The few brands remaining in RBI's portfolio include Reed Construction Data and Variety.
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