Iliffe Media has acquired the entire shareholding of Kent’s independent publisher KM Media Group, for an undisclosed sum.
KM Media Group publishes nine paid-for and four free newspapers including the Kent Messenger Series – the current Regional Press Awards Newspaper of the Year – and the Kentish Gazette, which was established in 1717.
PrintWeek understands that KM’s titles are currently printed at one of Trinity Mirror’s sites but that Iliffe will take this in-house once the current print contracts come to an end.
KM also publishes KentOnline.co.uk, which has an audience of 2.4 million unique monthly browsers.
Furthermore, the group operates the KMFM radio network, which reaches 164,000 listeners each week and will soon be broadcasting on television through a joint initiative with the University of Kent.
The acquisition, which was completed yesterday (27 April), follows Iliffe Media’s launch of the paid-for Cambridge Independent in 2016 and its recent acquisition of 13 titles from Johnston Press.
David Fordham, former chief executive of Iliffe News & Media, led the deal process on behalf of Iliffe Media. He said: “This acquisition represents the latest stage in the continued expansion of Iliffe Media and further demonstrates [chairman] Edward Iliffe’s personal belief and commitment in the future of local media, across all formats.”
Fordham has also been appointed as a non-executive director to KM’s board, with immediate effect.
Iliffe told PrintWeek: “KM Media Group has a very similar ethos to what we’ve been doing for a very long time. It’s a family-run business, local press and geographically it sits not too far away from where we’re currently publishing.
“Our mission is to invest in journalism and quality content, which is what we’re setting out to do from Cambridge, and we will continue to evolve that model.”
KM Media Group chairman Geraldine Allinson said the deal would enable KM to continue to evolve and bring about investment to maintain its independence and continue to serve Kent with news and other valued content.
It also enables KM to resolve long-standing issues surrounding its closed final salary pension scheme.
Allinson, who will remain fully involved with KM, said: “The directors and I believe this deal represents the best possible outcome for our staff and customers.
“Although there is some personal sadness for me and my family that our pension liabilities have led us to this position, in Iliffe we have found a publisher which shares our belief in the importance of local media.
“The Iliffe family have extensive experience and heritage in local media, publishing and printing dating back to 1891, and have very similar values and ethos to us at KM. We believe they will be great custodians of our media portfolio here in Kent.”
Iliffe Print Cambridge won Newspaper Printer of the Year at last year's PrintWeek Awards.