26 May 2016 – Blaze Publishing, the company which produces the NRA Journal as well as a host of other shooting magazines, has been sold to Future plc, a multi-million publishing house based in Bath.
A press release from Future states:
The two media companies have announced a seven-figure purchase and investment deal that sees Future acquire a range of Blaze’s media and events brands and support the UK Game Fair – the replacement show to the CLA Game Fair, which failed in 2015.
The established shooting magazine portfolio of Gun Trade News, Sporting Rifle, Airgun Shooter, Clay Shooting, iShoot and Bow International transfers to Future, alongside Blaze’s successful music-making titles and successful London exhibitions.
Exact financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Blaze’s managing director, Wes Stanton, will remain in post for a year to smooth the transition.
“There’s a limit to what an owner-managed company can achieve in terms of growth,” said Stanton. “Future is the right company to take on stewardship of these brands. Its own portfolio is largely male-focused and it is a leader in digital innovation: it’s a perfect fit for the shooting magazines.”
Media organisations buying and selling titles is as old as the hills, and generally has a minimal – albeit still noticeable – effect on the final product that you read.
While Blaze got it in the neck repeatedly for their first few issues of the NRA Journal after it was outsourced to them, doubtless spurred on by understandable ignorance of the incredibly detailed and niche world of Target Rifle, the journal has settled down to become a much more visually appealing product – though grumblings remain that the specialised technical articles are less evident now than they were in the old format.
Future might find themselves scratching their heads over the UK Game Fair, though, as since the CLA Game Fair collapsed, there has been an explosion of rival fairs hoping to capture the old one’s “countryside Glastonbury” crown – not to mention the existence of the Great British Shooting Show, whose direct marketing teams deserve either a medal or a slap, depending which side of the fence you sit on.