Ridings Publishing, which was founded and is still controlled by Owen Oyston, has lost more than £1m over the past three years according to figures filed at Companies House. Other directors of the company include Stuart Hall and Bill Roache, aka Coronation Street actor Ken Barlow.
Ridings Publishing was established in Preston by Oyston after his earlier sale in 2000 of the Life series of county titles (Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire et al) to Archant Life, a subsidiary of the quoted media company Archant based in Norwich.
The two publications are today fierce rivals of Archant’s Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire monthlies and have been waging a competitive and often acrimonious war in recent years, with Ridings driving its circulation on the back of lower cover prices and selected free distribution.
However, the main consequence of the Roses publishing war, seems to have been an overall and substantial growth in the North’s readership of monthly lifestyle magazines. Archant’s titles continue to grow their readership across their three Northern franchises – along with the familiar bumper paginations – while the Ridings North West title has recently released a stunning ABC audited circulation figure of 38,723 copies per month for the period to 3l December 2012 and the company also claims that its sister title, the Yorkshire ridings magazine has the “largest circulation of any county magazine in Yorkshire.”
Oyston is the company’s majority shareholder while Bill Roache, owns a minority stake of 300,000 shares. Co-director Stuart Hall doesn’t own shares in the company.
Oyston, to an older generation, is perhaps best-known for his eponymous chain of estate agencies, whose TV commercials he starred in. In 1987 he sold Oyston’s estate agents for an estimated £37 million to Royal Insurance.
Anthony Skinner, the editor and a director of the company, told Prolific North: “We are very pleased with the progress we have made in the eight years since taking over the magazines from the previous owners.
“We have continued to invest in our two titles during one of the most difficult markets the media has ever experienced and we are now close to profit. We believe we produce the best value county magazines in the North West and Yorkshire and thanks to our huge circulation – which is 18,169 more than any other county magazine – our advertising rate is very competitive with the cost per thousand down to half that of our nearest rival in the North West.”