Magazine group Greer Publications bought over by Belfast Telegraph owners

Greer Publications owners James and Gladys Greer with Hospitality Review editor Alyson Magee at the launch of last year's Pubs of Ulster Awards
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE key titles within the privately-owned business and consumer magazines group Greer Publications have been bought by Independent News & Media.

It is understood the Belfast Telegraph's parent firm will take over the running of Ulster Business, Ulster Grocer, Hospitality Review NI and Northern Woman from next month.

All four titles are seen as valuable assets and a strategic fit for the Tele's online presence and future marketing and awards plans.

The take-over deal has been under discussion since last October, and the legals are expected to be formalised by the end of this week.

Neither party to the acquisition - completed for an undisclosed sum - would comment on Tuesday. Greer Publications, which has its offices at the Edgewater Business Park in Duncrue, was set up in 1982 by husband and wife James and Gladys Greer when they launched all-Ireland motoring and motor sport magazine CarSport.

They later took control of the Mid-Ulster Mail weekly newspaper in Cookstown (then selling more than 16,000 copies a week), which they subsequently sold to the Morton Newspaper Group, now part of News Letter owners Johnston Press, in 1992.

At that stage the Greers bought Ulster Business, Ulster Grocer, Catering & Licensing Review and Specify from Jemma Publications and formed the current magazine group, which is the biggest in Northern Ireland.

CarSport, Garage Trader and construction magazine Specify will continue to be run by the Greers, but the other four monthly magazines will immediately become part of the Tele portfolio.

And while the 15 Greer Publications staff involved in the four acquired magazines will continue to operate from their present base at Duncrue in the short term, they will formally merge with their new parent when it vacates its famous Royal Avenue headquarters in May and transfers to a new base.

Media analyst Tony Axon from Belfast agency Navigator Blue said the acquisition was "an entirely logical move" for the Belfast Telegraph.

He told the Irish News: "The Tele signalled its interest in the magazine sector with the publication of Business Month, which was a significant investment and clearly indicated that the magazine sector was of interest.

"The four titles it is buying are all individually strong and hugely successful in their own sectors, and the acquisition of Greer Publications is probably the best local move into magazines that anybody could make right now."

But he cautioned: "The question going forward is how do these titles fit with a daily newspaper strategy?"

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