Sep 18, 2023
Online health and beauty firm THG in talks to buy freesheet City AM
Struggling London free newspaper would retain editorial independence and staff expected to be kept on The online health and beauty retail platform THG has emerged as the unlikely possible buyer of
Struggling London free newspaper would retain editorial independence and staff expected to be kept on
The online health and beauty retail platform THG has emerged as the unlikely possible buyer of struggling London the free newspaper City AM.
The newspaper, which distributes 70,000 copies a day targeting financial workers, put itself up for sale at the start of this month. This week it was reported that it was close to collapsing into administration.
London-listed THG – formerly known as the Hut Group and the owner of retail sites including LookFantastic, Cult Beauty and Myprotein – is in advanced talks to buy City AM, as first reported by Sky News’s City editor, Mark Kleinman, who writes a column for the freesheet.
It is understood that the purchase, if it goes ahead, could be announced later on Wednesday.
City AM’s staff are expected to be kept on, and it is understood that the newspaper would retain its editorial independence.
The freesheet’s founders had previously said they were in talks with potential new investors, before targeting an outright sale, after it built up £1.2m in debt by the end of 2021.
It has been hit hard by the change in commuter habits after the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with a slump in the advertising market, and the soaring costs of printing and paper required for its print edition.
Before Covid, City AM had been published every weekday but decided in January to make its Friday edition digital only because of the reduced number of financial workers going to the office at the end of the week.
Free newspapers in the UK, including the Evening Standard and Metro, have suffered in recent years, with advertising revenues declining and circulation dropping as commuters increasingly turned to their smartphones.
THG, which is led by its founder and chief executive, Matt Moulding, is an unlikely suitor for a newspaper.
However, it is understood that City AM’s access to an affluent, metropolitan audience with disposable income would appeal to THG, while its media arm launched its own print magazine channel in early 2022, including the title the Supplement, which it made available to all Myprotein customers.
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A spokesperson for City AM has previously said that it had a greater digital reach than its print circulation alone, and attracted about 2 million readers to its website each month.
The purchase could also tie in with THG’s repositioning of its Ingenuity division, which the company describes as a tool to help “leading brands sell online, internationally, by providing technology, global fulfilment and digital performance solutions”.
THG declined to comment.Privacy Notice: