Another rogue magazine publisher shut down in Liverpool

Richard Stuart-Turner
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The High Court in Manchester has wound up another rogue magazine publisher based in Liverpool, following a spate of similar cases in the city and surrounding areas over the past 18 months.

Investigators found that the company had invoiced for adverts that had not been agreed to
Investigators found that the company had invoiced for adverts that had not been agreed to

The court heard that Sage Media National Ltd had produced a magazine called Copperwheel on behalf of the West Midlands Police Motoring Club.

Trading from January 2018, Sage Media National pitched to businesses to advertise in the magazine. Concerns had been raised about the publisher and investigators from the Insolvency Service launched confidential enquiries into the firm’s activities.

They discovered that only four issues of Copperwheel were published in more than two years of trading, with only 1,000 copies printed per issue and almost half of the adverts paid for were not published in the magazine.

Investigators also found that to elicit further sales, the publisher claimed to prospective advertisers that more than 10,000 people across the UK and Europe read the magazine.

However, the publication was only sent to around 50 members of the West Midlands Police Motoring Club, with the vast majority based in the West Midlands area.

Advertisers told investigators that the company used aggressive sales tactics and that many were invoiced for adverts they had not agreed to.

One charity, which had agreed to a single advert, was invoiced for two further adverts it had not agreed to, and the invoice was paid from a volunteer’s personal funds.

At the hearing, Deputy District Judge Brown heard that the company had failed to retain and produce company records and that £88,000 was withdrawn by the company director and not accounted for.

The business was wound up in the public interest last Wednesday (25 November) by Deputy District Judge Brown and the Official Receiver has been appointed as liquidator.

David Usher, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “Sage Media National targeted companies to advertise in a magazine they falsely claimed would be read by thousands of people across the UK and Europe.

“Our investigators found Sage Media National were described as pushy by advertisers, used aggressive sales tactics and charged for adverts they had not even requested.

“The courts have rightly recognised that Sage Media National was causing damage and harm in its business practices and wound up the company to ensure no further organisation will become a victim to its unscrupulous conduct.”

This is the fifth recent case of its kind involving businesses based in the local area.

Three publishers based in the Wirral, The Hannay Partnership, KMG Promotions and Harlequin Print Ltd (no relation to Harlequin Print Group in South Wales, Harlequin Clothing Print & Signage Ltd in West Sussex or Harlequin Digital Print Ltd in Essex), plus fellow Liverpool company Print Publishing have also all been recently wound up after making similar false claims about their business activities.

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