The picture research took us to the four corners of the earth (and sometimes beyond) and the deliberations about what deserved inclusion went on month after soul-searching month. But our aim was simple. Create a chronology of Haymarket as varied as the company itself, not just a history about who did what and when. Reflect the occasional madness of publishing. Talk about the glorious failures as well as triumphs. And allow the stories to be told by the company's stars of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Enjoy the read ...
- Selected by and with contributions from Tim Bulley, Kevin Costello, Martin Durham, Ivor Falvey, Stephen Farish, Peter Foubister, David Fraser, Dave Hall, Stovin Hayter, Robert Heller, Michael Heseltine, Rupert Heseltine, James Inverne, Jane Macken, Caroline Marshall, Dominic Mills, Jo Morrell, Bill Murray, Clare Newsome, Mel Nichols, Rufus Olins, Peter Osbourne, William Pecover, Paul Simpson, Juliet Slot, Craig Smith, Philip Smith, Hormazd Sorabjee, Steve Sutcliffe, Simon Taylor, Simon Tindall, Eric Verdon-Roe, Tim Waldron, John L Walters.
1. 1957 - IT ALL STARTED WITH A 'DOG'
Michael Heseltine: "I became a publisher at the invitation of an Oxford friend, Clive Labovitch. Our friendship developed when, as President of the Oxford Union, I arranged for Clive to publish his newspaper from an outhouse within the grounds. I became a director of his company although I made a minimal contribution.
"Haymarket's roots go back to a students' guide, Oxford University What's What. It sold for 2/6d to freshmen, listing clubs, cinemas and restaurants, sporting activities and so on, with maps.
"Clive acquired it a couple of years after we graduated, while I was training to become a chartered accountant in London. He had been co-owner and editor of the student paper Cherwell.
"He phoned me one evening in London. He told me he had acquired a project and wanted to talk it over. I immediately took a taxi to his flat. Tucked into the back of What's What was a slim volume called Directory of Opportunities for Graduates. Graduates at this time were gold dust. It consisted of 40 display advertising pages from premier companies recruiting graduates. Clive asked what I thought.
"I said: 'This is sold to people within days of arriving at university. They have no interest in jobs they may apply for three years later. You should give this away free to every final-year undergraduate, not just at Oxford but all over the country.'
"Clive responded: 'That's a good idea. Why don't you join me?' By the time I caught a taxi home, I was in publishing. It was the turning point of my commercial life. Unplanned, unanticipated, instantly adopted. I just knew it was right. Revenue from the edition Clive showed me, at £40 a page, was £1,600. The next year's edition was £16,000. And those were 50s money values. Multiply by thirty!
"Clive soon set about translating the concept into reality. I continued with my accountancy articles while keeping in close touch with the business. The annual Directory of Opportunities for Graduates, under the Cornmarket Press imprint, became a substantial hardback. Instead of third-year students everywhere, the initial target was older, more prestigious universities. A personally addressed volume was delivered to undergraduates in college at the start of their final year. Our vetting system checked random porters' lodges to validate the distribution.
"DOG consisted of text entries describing each potential employer in standard format. Every page, apart from a brief introduction, was paid for. The basic entry was £50 for just under 300 words and £5 for every 20 additional words. Companies appeared in two indexes free but paid extra for additional entries.
"Our first edition, in 1957, went down extremely well, running to 169 paid pages. Building on this success DOG was joined the same year by the Directory of Opportunities for School Leavers and the following year by the Directory of Opportunities for Qualified Men.
"Cash from this very successful stable was critical particularly in the difficult years that followed our 1962 problems. Without DOG, it is highly unlikely that Haymarket would ever have evolved into the media company it is today."
- Interview by Dave Hall
2. 1959 - THE PURCHASE OF TOWN
Michael Heseltine: "We bought our first magazine in 1959. My partner, Clive Labovitch, found an undistinguished quarterly, Man About Town, which had been launched by the trade magazine Tailor and Cutter to attract affluent young men to Savile Row. Clive had a vision to bring world-class design and photography to British specialist publishing and, in this, he coincided with the approach being pursued by Jocelyn Stevens and Mark Boxer at Queen. His inspired decision was to recruit Tom Wolsey as the art director on the magazine. Its high standards proved the foundation for our publishing into the next century.
"In the spring of 1960, Town, as it was to be called, was relaunched and soon became a monthly. Under a very talented editor, Nicholas Tomalin, and Michael Parkinson, its features editor, the contributors and photographers were, or were to become, household names - Lawrence Durrell, Kingsley Amis, Ray Bradbury, V S Pritchett, Shirley Conran, David Hughes, Anthony Blond, Terence Donovan, and David Bailey.
"The launch of Town coincided with the emergence of agency hotshots like Collett Dickenson Pearce, which created world-class visual ads. They wanted a vehicle to display them and were less concerned about circulation than the product's quality. People assumed because it looked good that it was commercially viable. A huge mistake!
"Another coincidental development was the emergence of Playboy and its lesser imitators. Hugh Hefner ignored the qualms of the advertising community and drove circulation on the back of the full frontals. We weren't prepared to fish in that pond. Our circulation never took off and the magazine was at best a marginal commercial proposition. But it made our reputation and it gave us the experience and confidence to carry the quality standards into other specialist publishing. It also brought us partners from the printing industry with their appetite to feed their machines.
"Management Today, under Bob Heller's outstanding editorship, combined penetrating business writing for the first time in Britain with the look and feel of a luxury consumer magazine, skills we learned on Town. Campaign was to follow, along with a raft of other repositioned and upgraded magazines. Town ceased to be an essential loss leader. As the rest of the business grew - we were planning Campaign by then - we knew its time was over. Nevertheless, while its last issue was January 1968, its heritage continues to this day."
3. 1959 - THE LAUNCH OF MANAGEMENT TODAY
Robert Heller: "Management Today came over my horizon in late 1965. As the business editor of The Observer, I had been offered an exclusive on how Haymarket, unknown in the business market, had stolen publishing rights to a management monthly from under the nose of the mighty Thomson.
"The clincher was an 84-page text dummy created in a weekend and presented to the startled heads of the British Institute of Management in a brilliant coup.
"Haymarket wasn't big-time, true. But the idea of a monthly business glossy, modelled after the seriously rich Fortune in the US, was major-league. Thus the David-beats-Goliath tale had deeper interest. One Haymarket partner, Clive Labovitch, was well-known to me, as was the design and journalistic quality of Town magazine. Labovitch and Michael Heseltine had also recognised their weakness in a new marketplace, and taken the Financial Times and Economist on board as partners.
"I wasn't surprised when Clive popped up in my office and asked me to edit. My name had always been mentioned when publishers had toyed with this market vacancy. With broad FT experience, including a three-year US stint and a gossip column, plus Sunday credentials, I needed only magazine exposure to prove my competence. I regarded the risk of failure, for me and the magazine, as low and the upside of success as very high.
"The MT launch meant far more than the publication alone. It could be the first title to bring the best standards of Fleet Street to 'professional' periodicals (disparagingly known as trade & tech). In particular, MT could marry top-class editorial design to the much higher US standards of business reporting - and on the 60s revolution in management. I had all the elements required: ace designers, a young and clever staff, first-class contributors, superb photographers and a supportive, aggressive, determined management.
"The launch, like all launches, flirted with disaster, not least when Labovitch quit Haymarket, inadvertently leaving me with a production shambles. Simon Tindall won my undying gratitude by creating order from chaos in 24 hours flat. We aimed high - full and frank profiles of the biggest companies were the centrepieces, but the first issues bulged with readable, high-level articles: including a magisterial piece from the great Peter Drucker.
"The controversial use of fashion photographers (in colour, at that) was one of the easiest decisions I have ever taken. In one step, it changed the face of business journalism and laid the foundations for a stable of professional periodicals (on all of which I worked) that led lucrative markets by being better and different. The first MT wasn't perfect, of course, but it was good enough for Michael to tell me: 'We've produced one of the world's most important magazines.' It sounded a mite exaggerated at the time. But in judging the impact of MT on current and future professional publishing, Michael was bang right."
Robert Heller was at the helm of Management Today under one guise or another until finally departing in 1987.
4. 1966 - JEFFREY BERNARD'S ADGET FROM HELL
Town, as a pioneering lifestyle title, had its gritty side: starving Africans or socially oppressed Brits alongside exquisite, edgy fashion shoots. Attracting advertisers remained a challenge, especially in the post-Christmas lull. The ad director Lindsay Masters had a brainwave for the dead spot in February 1966 - a stylish feature about Spain, which, in the mid-60s, remained an aspirational holiday destination.
The ad manager Simon Tindall was delighted: "We did really well. We got 20 ad pages, and 12 were for Spain."
The writer was recent - and shortlived - recruit Jeffrey Bernard, a drunken charmer and gambler whose "Low Life" column in The Spectator, more than a decade later, inspired the 90s stage hit Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell.
Bernard was certainly unwell in Spain. His incapacity began before take-off, unable to fly without a dose or two of vodka, Masters remembers. "On board, Jeffrey knocked back a mass more booze."
After touchdown at Gibraltar, Bernard managed to head north. His beautifully crafted account inclined more to the gritty than the exquisite. Through a dusty haze of red Spanish rot-gut, he claims to have made his way to Ronda. There his attempts to watch a bullfight were all in vain, though somehow he got himself gored in the foot. He progressed to Jerez, managing to con accommodation from Spanish landladies by claiming his father fought, or, in one instance, died in the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. Surviving on a less than gourmet diet, he formed close acquaintance with back-street bars and unsavoury plumbing. Iberian bacteria clashed with his English bowels in an alcohol-charged epic.
He shared too many of the most intimate details with the readers of Town under the heading: "THE PAIN IN SPAIN." The advertisers were not impressed, Tindall recalls. "Ninety per cent of them refused to pay."
- Simon Tindall was interviewed by Dave Hall.
5. 1966 - ROLAND SCHENK - 'SECRET WEAPON'
Design director Roland Schenk is one of the great legends of Haymarket. He's known for the launch of Campaign (which he describes as "a last-minute rescue operation") and many other titles; for his blunt and brusque manner; and for the immense power he wielded over editors and publishers. Between 1968, when he joined Management Today, and 1999, when Revolution was launched under his art direction, he was the company's principal design guru.
And that's completely understandable: Schenk single-handedly pioneered the way business-to-business publishing in the UK looks. Variations on the ideas he established a generation ago - big headlines, bold images, design-led editorial structures - are still visible across all the sectors.
For Schenk, design was not a style, but a process rooted in Swiss Modernism. William Owen, the author of Modern Magazine Design (William C Brown), notes: "His influence on the Haymarket house style is huge ... in fact, Haymarket is the only publisher in the UK with a house style!"
Designer Pat Brock, recruited by Schenk in 1968, recalls setting those distinctive Franklin Gothic headlines using Letraset, with strict instructions to hand-trim every "E", "F" and "T" to Schenk's specifications.
His methods stretched beyond typography. Schenk championed illustrators such as Mike Foreman, Ralph Steadman and Fluck and Law (who created Spitting Image), and the photographers Lester Bookbinder, Phil Sayer, Brian Griffin and others.
Schenk sees such commissioning as one of his greatest achievements. "Due to my previous activity as the art director of DU magazine, which published work by photographers such as Sanders, Frank, Cartier-Bresson et al, I was able to recruit some outstanding photographers," Schenk says, pointing out that this was unusual in the context of business publications, several years before the creative use of photography in advertising.
Griffin, who first worked for Schenk in 1972, speaks of his "massive" influence: "He would say: 'This is crap. Go back and do it again!' I would go off with a shiver down my spine to be as creative as possible." And the Campaign art director, Justin Marshall, recalls Schenk's discomfort with new technology: on one occasion, Schenk scrawled a layout rough on a monitor with a magic marker.
The last word on Schenk must go to Lindsay Masters, Schenk's patron - and sometimes, of necessity, protector - over more than 30 years at Haymarket. "In Roland we had, in my view, the best designer in England, not only in the specialist press but in consumer magazines too. He made our magazines not only look great, but entirely different to anything else around."
Masters adds: "I was so worried that our competitors might realise what a commercial edge our design gave us that I instructed the salesmen never to mention it. Fortunately it took many years before the opposition woke up. Roland was our secret weapon."
- John L Walters, Eye editor.
FAST FORWARD TO ... 1996 - PAUL HARPIN, MODERN DESIGN GURU, ARRIVES
While Haymarket's business titles, fiercely overseen by Roland Schenk, were beautiful, the consumer magazines were a mixed bag. The editorial director, Mel Nichols, keen to fix that, had been tracking the career of Paul Harpin. "For a year, I phoned him every quarter and said: 'Are you ready to join us yet?'," Nichols recalls. "We needed a design director with a broad range who could put strong art editors into every magazine."
Harpin started at Architects' Journal, at 30 became the design boss at Centaur with 19 titles, including Creative Review and Design Week, then the creative director at Redwood in its BBC days. He'd designed big newsstand launches such as Top Gear and Gardeners' World and been responsible for customer titles for Marks & Spencer, American Express and InterCity. A stint with a group of women's titles in Singapore added variety. "I knew Paul had the capability and flair our consumer and customer portfolio needed," Nichols says.
Eleven years later, Harpin, the design director of Haymarket Consumer Media and Network, leads a team of 60 art editors and the tally of magazines he's worked on tops 160, which may be a record. He's also responsible for Haymarket's corporate ID.
"At Centaur, I'd soon appreciated just how good Roland Schenk at Haymarket was," Harpin says. "My first launch there was a weekly restaurant trade magazine. It was good, but far from brilliant. I tried harder next time; tried to be as good as Roland.
"I see myself as an enabler of good design. I'm a design manager, who gets his hands very dirty. Sometimes I do it myself, sometimes I clear the decks and get my design time up to 95 per cent, but most of my magazines are collaborations with other designers within the businesses.
"We are very good at collaborative customer projects in Haymarket Network and our work with Wieden & Kennedy for Nike and with Mark Farrow for the Design Council were particularly pleasing.
"But best of all, I love the newsstand magazines: it's what I always wanted to do - proper commercial art, where words and pictures come together to produce an irresistible whole. Our magazines are like lettuce for slugs, or chocolate for kids - if you're mad about gadgets you have to have Stuff; if you buy one copy of FourFourTwo, you'll come back for more."
Harpin's fellow designers see his skills clearly. Paul Yelland, the creative editor of Autocar, says: "Paul has the capacity to approach each new challenge with a completely fresh attitude, unburdened by previous experience. It is this clarity of thought, and his gift of communication, that's a constant inspiration to those working with him."
Martin Tullett, the group art director of Haymarket Network, says: "His greatest strength is that he designs in an editorial way. He thinks about the story rather than just choosing the font. We've all learned from that."
6. 1968 - CAMPAIGN BREAKS THE MOULD
Caroline Marshall: "A walk through the history of Campaign since its dummy issue (left) in 1968 to today - 15 editors later - is a walk through the ad industry itself. Two years after its launch, Campaign ran a story about a new agency. Maurice Saatchi had quit Haymarket, announcing he was to start an agency called Saatchi & Saatchi with his brother, Charles. It was the beginning of a relationship that proved vital for Campaign in its early years. The brothers cultivated a hotline to successive editors, and would call to leak stories about Saatchis and its rivals. (One Campaign myth is that the Saatchis had a stake in the magazine at launch. They didn't and never have.)
"The relationship was so strong that on one occasion in 1975 when the brothers couldn't swing it to arrange a deal to coincide with Campaign's press day deadlines, Campaign's publisher, Mike Potter (who went on to found Redwood, see page 48), brought publication forward to cover the reverse takeover of the Compton Group, a seismic story at the time.
"If the 60s belonged to the Saatchis, the 70s were dominated by disputes. Campaign itself came out late during the three-day weeks, but the story of the decade was the two-year dispute between the Slade and NGA unions, during which Slade attempted to blacklist Collett Dickenson Pearce's creative department.
"The late 70s and 80s were about the new: Lowe Howard-Spink, WCRS, BBH and AMV launched through the pages of Campaign and were founded by the stars it had helped establish. Campaign itself was subject to breakaways. Its former editor Michael Chamberlain founded Marketing Week, then the media editor Tim Brooks quit to launch Media Week (see page 50).
"Campaign has always covered big media stories: we campaigned for Channel 4 in the early 70s, for instance. But it was not until the post-recession 90s during Dominic Mills' editorship that we stopped ghettoising the discipline and began recruiting journalists that championed media. Claire Beale, today's editor, started on the magazine as a humble media reporter.
"Integration, the rise of direct disciplines, global advertising, digital news delivery, extending the brand into new territories such as India and Romania - these are the things that drive Campaign today. Like the industry itself, we have battled at times to cover these new realities. But the cut-and-paste job on Jerry della Femina's quote remains true as ever: 'If advertising is the most fun you can have while keeping your clothes on, then editing Campaign comes a close second.'"
Caroline Marshall edited Campaign from 2000 to 2004.
"How We Launched Campaign", by Lindsay Masters, is on page 58.
7. 1967-84 - THE PETROL HEADS OF UK PUBLISHING
Simon Taylor: "In the 60s, the British Printing Corporation found itself owning a rag, tag and bobtail basket of unprofitable magazines, taken from struggling publishers in lieu of unpaid print bills. One of these was a weekly motor-racing title called Autosport, published from a seedy room over a dirty bookshop in Paddington. As its editorial assistant, I was paid £14 for a seven-day week. I wrote copy in the office on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I reported motor races around Europe on Saturday and Sunday, I put the magazine to press on Monday and Tuesday, and occasionally I got some sleep on a friend's sofa. I'd never enjoyed myself so much.
"One day in 1967, I was tapping away at my desk when a tall man with a mane of blond hair came in and started noting down the number of chairs and typewriters. With all the arrogance of youth, I asked him who he was and what the hell he was doing. His reply was brief and to the point: 'I'm Michael Heseltine, and I've just bought you.'
"Michael had persuaded BPC to let Haymarket rationalise all its magazine interests. A few weeks later, Autosport exchanged its small scruffy office for a larger, but equally scruffy, one which housed an extraordinary mix of titles. They came and went with great rapidity, but some remain memorable: Amateur Tape Recording, Carpet News Weekly, Practical Scooter & Moped, Scrap Trade Directory.
"Some of the Autosport staff found the new regime too onerous. A lunch hour could last no more than 60 minutes, and expense claims had to be justified with bills. They jumped, or were pushed. Overnight, I found myself editing Autosport, reporting to its publisher, the endlessly inventive and resilient Simon Tindall, an inspiring leader who never lost his Tigger-like sense of humour, however grim the figures. Simon was responsible for all Haymarket's consumer and trade titles, large and small. Even for someone with his prodigious energy there weren't enough hours in the day, so he plucked me off Autosport, and gave me my own ragged basket of 19 motley titles.
"We agreed that another car magazine would be fun, and between us dreamed up a new concept containing nothing but buying information - just road-tests and specifications. Our timing was less than ideal. As the launch issue hit the bookstalls, war broke out in the Middle East. In Britain, petrol rationing was imposed, along with emergency speed limits and mandatory power cuts. Somehow, we survived, and What Car? went on to become Britain's best-selling car magazine.
"The damage it inflicted on Autocar, the most famous car title of all, so frightened its owners, IPC, that we were able to buy it from them in 1984. They kept their other big weekly, Motor, but our relaunch of Autocar inflicted mortal injuries on that, and four years later, we bought it too, and folded it into Autocar. Other launches and acquisitions followed, until we found we were the largest car magazine publishers in Britain. It was almost a surprise: we'd just been enjoying ourselves."
Simon Taylor was the managing director of Haymarket Magazines from 1980 to 1996, and then chairman to 2000.
8. 1973 - THE 'WHAT ...?' GENRE MURDERS GRAMMAR
Simon Taylor: "When Simon Tindall and I pooled our ideas for a new type of car buyers' magazine, I suggested it should be called Car Choice. Simon dismissed this at once: too bland. At the time the Consumers' Association publication, Which?, was seen as authoritative, because it did not accept advertising. The question-mark in its logo was quirky and distinctive.
"Simon decided our new magazine should be called Which Car?. I spoke to copyright lawyers. Their view was that Which? would take us to court.
"Simon, nothing daunted, had the answer. 'We'll call it What Car?.' I was horrified. Metaphorically waving my second-class Cambridge English degree, I objected to being involved in the launch of a new magazine whose title was syntactically incorrect. Simon brushed aside my pusillanimous objections; six weeks later the magazine was launched, and six months later we knew it was flying.
"For an encore we launched What Hi-Fi?, an almost immediate market leader, and later What Camera?. But by now the publishing world had cottoned on to the 'What?' formula, and imitators proliferated. Even to my pedantic ears, What Car? no longer sounded like bad syntax. It just sounded like a success."
9. 1981 - CONSUMER TITLES MOVE TO TEDDINGTON
Eric Verdon-Roe: "I joined Haymarket in 1976 at the very bottom of the ad salesman's ladder, selling dealer panels on What Car?. In those days the company's prestige, and most of its profits, came from business titles like Campaign and Management Today, and the consumer division was very much the poor relation.
"The specialist consumer titles didn't have the same ethos of editorial quality. There'd be little or no editorial colour. We'd print on bulky paper, which made thin magazines seem fatter, but the print quality was still pretty grim.
"Then the culture changed, symbolised by a significant office move. Haymarket was spread around various inadequate London offices, but in 1980 a large, attractive building in Teddington was bought and refurbished. All the consumer titles moved there, with Simon Taylor as the managing director and myself rapidly promoted to be one of four publishing directors.
"Our great strength was that the editorial teams were always passionately dedicated and knowledgeable. They still are: for most of them there's little or no division between job and hobby. The staff on Gramophone, for example, live for classical music. The Autosport and F1 Racing people eat, sleep and breathe motor-racing. In many cases, the ad sales and publishing people are just the same. They are all living in their markets, and their enthusiasm and involvement shines through in the magazines.
"But until the Teddington move, most of the consumer titles were produced to a formula dictated by tight budgets, and creatively the editorial teams were restricted. Our strategy was to go all out where we were strongest, and build market leaders. We empowered the editors, putting them back in control of their product. And we appointed a top editorial director, Mel Nichols, and then a brilliant design director, Paul Harpin, to raise everybody's aspirations and make editorial quality central to what we were doing.
"There was always a real buzz in the place - lots of noise, lots of energy, lots of intense discussion and argument, lots of laughter. The dress code was pretty laid back, and there'd be the occasional game of football in the passages during the lunch hour. But we did build market leaders. Soon Teddington was contributing more than half the profits of the group, and nobody was thinking poor relation any more."
10. 1981 - BIRTH OF CLASSIC & SPORTS CAR
Eric Verdon-Roe: "Haymarket unveiled What Car? the same month in 1973 that IPC launched Thoroughbred & Classic Cars. Given What Car?'s burgeoning success, we duly congratulated ourselves that we'd launched the right one - but nevertheless still had pangs of regret that a good opportunity had got away.
"Often, Simon Taylor (then the MD of Haymarket's consumer patch) and I would sit over a bowl of lunchtime pasta and debate whether, given our resources in writers, archive material and passion for the subject, we could do a better job than T&CC. We reckoned we could.
"Simon used to read a very esoteric magazine called Old Motor that had wonderful black-and-white photography but was mostly about old trucks. In 1980 Simon entered (correctly) their caption competition. The editor, an ex-Motor journalist called Mike McCarthy, recognised Simon's name and, knowing that it was losing money and fearing it'd be axed, dashed off a postcard to Simon saying: 'Why don't you buy Old Motor?'
"We went up to Hemel Hempstead and haggled the price down from £15,00 to £12,750 - the cost of a BMW 528. Mike McCarthy was delighted and insisted that we also took on a young photographer/designer, over the partition, called Mick Walsh - wonderfully, he's still the editor-in-chief 27 years later!
"We published our first issue in January 1981 and - contrary to the usual impatience - continued it as Old Motor until April 1982. Then we were ready with the magazine we believed could do everything better than T&CC while adding ideas of our own.
"We argued about the name: one faction favoured What Classic?; another, Sports Car - because the ad market carried a lot of classifieds for late-model sports cars. So it evolved to Classic and Sportscar, since refined to Classic & Sports Car. The inspiration for the distinctive logo treatment came from the badges of Aston Martin, Bentley and Avro and we became known as 'the one with the wings'.
"Steadily, by having much better stories and photographs, caring more, being wittier, having more energy and always going to classic car events to live in the market - all great Haymarket strengths - we overtook T&CC.
"There was a watershed after ten years when advertisers realised they got better response from C&SC and the sand under T&CC's feet washed away. After that, they kept changing direction, their readers' patience snapped and our sales surged ahead.
"We stuck to our values and just kept continuously improving. Now we have a magazine that, while entirely fresh, is totally recognisable as the one we launched 25 years ago. It's just like the Porsche 911, really. It's been a brilliant return on investment too: well over 1,000-fold so far."
- Interview by Mel Nichols.
11. 1988 - DISTRIBUTION DEAL WITH EMAP, THE BBC
Simon Tindall: "Getting magazines to readers was always a headache. By the 80s, it was difficult to justify sufficient sales reps for the coverage we needed. Distribution was very inefficient. We had no real control of the day our magazines went on sale and wholesalers forced outrageous terms on us.
"A neat solution arose at one of my regular meetings with Robin Miller, the chairman of Emap. We would mull over mutual problems, like the possible threat of VAT on cover prices. Emap had its exclusive operation, but still lacked the scale. Over breakfast at the Ritz the idea came up of joint distribution.
"At first sight it was a non-starter: we were fierce competitors, free to invade each other's territory any time. But it also made sense. Costs would be shared, experience pooled and negotiating weight achieved. We approached TNT, Rupert Murdoch's newspaper distribution arm, to streamline deliveries and put us in control.
"We faced fierce negotiations with our own colleagues to sell the idea. We had to establish ground rules about what information to share and keep secret.
"Public domain data like ABCs was fine, but what about immediate sales figures while issues were still on sale, or competitive data about other publishers' titles, promotional plans, pricing information and deals with bigger outlets?
"Peter Osborne, our circulation director, had hours of painstaking discussions with Emap. Then we had to talk round our publishers who were rightly protective of key commercial secrets.
"A big attraction was the promise continually to reduce some wholesale margins, slash distribution costs and improve sales efficiencies, thus boosting each magazine's bottom line.
"By 1988, the objections were overcome. Emap's Frontline became a joint venture with Haymarket. It allowed us to redress the balance and saved millions.
"The argument for increasing our scope was also incontrovertible, so we set about seeking a third partner. The BBC was expanding its own publishing, and the abolition of the listings magazine duopoly between ITV and BBC clouded the prospects for the Radio Times.
"It was flattering that the BBC found our standards at Frontline matched its own, and the extra weight of the Radio Times certainly boosted our market share. The BBC joined in 1990, and Bauer in 2005, and Frontline has since vied with Marketforce for market leadership.
"Since Haymarket joined Frontline in 1988, Frontline calculates the partnership has distributed around 6,389,000,000 magazines."
Simon Tindall is now a non-executive director of Haymarket Group.
- Interview by Dave Hall.
12. 1988 - DINNER WITH SOME WORLD CHAMPIONS
Peter Foubister: "Murray Walker concluded the interview with Ayrton Senna on a wonderful evening when the Formula One world champion joined the Autosport Awards and simply enthralled the 1,300 guests. But, instead of retiring quickly and making an early escape, Ayrton then took the microphone from Murray and asked that the audience grant him the opportunity to say a few more words.
"He thanked individuals around the room for helping him achieve his success, for teaching him his profession, for being his friends. It was the Great Room at the Grosvenor House, but you could have heard a pin drop.
"There have been many highlights since the first Awards dinner at the Kensington Roof Gardens in 1988, when 200 close friends gathered and paid £35 for a ticket. Guests included the 'Rat Pack' - up and coming racers including Damon Hill, Mark Blundell and Perry McCarthy. Their objective was to have the maximum fun - and it complemented our objective, to reinforce Autosport's position at the heart of the sport and the industry. The magazine's passion carried over into a celebration of the season, so it became the end-of-year party with heroes from around the world taking the stage to tell it like it had been.
"Maybe, sometimes, there have been excesses. The number of egos in the room has occasionally reached remarkable levels, the after-show partying has maybe pushed the limits - and then there was the full size McLaren Formula One ice carving that graced the entrance when Mika Hakkinen won the F1 title. Well into the next morning he was caught trying to squeeze himself into the cockpit.
"Over the years, Tommy's charity for unborn children has benefited to the tune of some £200,000 and the Awards has also provided a platform from which to launch the next generations of British drivers. The McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year was launched in 1989, when David Coulthard was the first to take the title. Subsequent winners have included Button, Davidson and Franchitti. And, in 1996, the Awards also provided the opportunity for Lewis Hamilton (aged 11, and there to receive his karting award) to ask Ron Dennis if he could drive one of his racing cars ..."
- Peter Foubister is a director of Haymarket Network.
13. 1990 - A TIE-UP WITH THE BBC IN EXHIBITIONS
Peter Osborne: "Success can hurt. That hardly applied to me in 1989, but it did to the BBC, whose Olympia version of the TV favourite The Clothes Show attracted such crowds they had to go on air begging fans to stay away.
"I ran Campaign and the rest of Haymarket's business and medical group then. I had hardly covered myself in glory, and didn't enjoy it, either. Simon Tindall thought I needed a new challenge and asked me to start Haymarket's exhibitions division. I also sat on the board of the distribution company Frontline, with the BBC Worldwide MD, Dr John Thomas. He told me his Clothes Show Live dilemma and, although we had no track record, I strongly suggested we run it.
"We needed to convince the show's organising company Barker Brown, and a sceptical programme producer, and beat off exhibitions giants like Emap, Thompson's, Brintex and the NEC. We had no experience, so it was easy to promise the earth to the BBC, and we won the licence.
"We switched to the NEC and created superb show attractions. Then, disaster. Olympia had too many customers, the NEC too few - despite being a sell-out. In freak weather it was snow-bound on the second day. Motorways closed, trains stopped. Visitors could not get in. Exhibitors couldn't get out and overnight security was a worry. I volunteered with Gavin Brown, of Barker Brown, to sleep in the hall. We were desperately cold. With the designer Jeff Banks, I negotiated two trolleyloads of sandwiches for people who had to stay. We stole the BBC tea urn by climbing a wall.
"Many exhibitors and Clothes Show models joined refugees from two other shows, motorbikes and the Ladies' Kennel Club, in the upstairs restaurants. Beer, banned substances and barking made too volatile a cocktail and NEC security asked us to take our people back to our halls.
"Exhibitors agreed to run the stands the next day. We had a TV programme to make, and we made it. We earned mega stripes from the BBC for staying open, when other shows abandoned. So I was optimistic when we asked Dr Thomas if there were more shows we could run under licence. He said: 'I don't want you to have any more licences. Let's start a joint venture instead.' So Simon and Dr Thomas had tea at The Ritz and agreed the joint company should run all their shows.
"Clothes Show, Good Food, and Top Gear Classic & Sportscar were only the start. More hits followed, like BBC Gardeners' World Live, Good Homes and the Good Food Show. The joint venture attracts more than 300,000 visitors annually and is one of Haymarket's most successful partnerships."
Peter Osborne retired this year as the chairman of Haymarket Exhibitions.
- Interview by Dave Hall.
14. 1991 - EXPANSION INTO TWO NEW SECTORS
Martin Durham: "After ten years away, I came back to Haymarket towards the end of 1990. It was obvious a severe downturn was about to hit the economy and I expected I was going to have to trim everything back with a blunt axe.
"So I was pretty surprised to be told to get down to somewhere near Heathrow to take a look at two monthly magazines we were thinking of acquiring. This seemed an unusual time to be doing it, all the more so given that the business group had not launched or bought much in the previous few years.
"One of the magazines, Promotions & Incentives, was an obvious fit with Campaign and Marketing. The other, Conference & Incentive Travel, was basically just chucked into the mix.
"I remember going to their offices to pick up all their back copies, photos, contact sheets and so on. There wasn't that much - Nick Stimpson, then the ad manager (and now the MD of Business Media's Specialist division), and I loaded it all into a van and unloaded it outside his office in Lancaster Gate. Not many staff came either; just two from editorial and two from sales. We had to recruit from virtually nothing.
"Shortly after that, the first Gulf War started. So we had one title linked into the down-cycle experienced by marketing communications, and another exposed to the travel market, which was hit by the war. In the slogan of the time, that was a double-whammy.
"We redesigned and relaunched both. We did what we thought was right and we stuck to our guns. Within 18 to 24 months, both were among our biggest titles by profit and by margin. It wasn't easy, but we learned one important lesson along the way, which was that getting your relations right with the key trade associations was crucial in certain markets.
"There was a significant by-product too. P&I came with a profitable Buyers' Guide directory, which spawned our own directories operation and soon became a very significant business in its own right with products alongside virtually every magazine.
"But the most important thing to come out of the purchase of these two titles was that we regained our confidence. We proved to ourselves that with a sprinkling of magic dust editorially and in publishing terms, we could revive moribund titles. And both now sit at the centre of thriving multi-disciplinary publishing entities, with awards, conferences, directories and so on.
"In the history of Haymarket, neither of these were huge purchases, but they marked a turning point because the company rediscovered its belief in its ability to turn magazines around. Since then, you can see a long list of titles where we've done the same again."
Martin Durham is the chairman of Haymarket Business Media.
- Interview by Dominic Mills.
15. GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
There are, as one Carpet Review Weekly veteran fondly recalls, only so many special reports you can produce on gripper rods in any one year. This old established title, much revered in Harrogate and Kidderminster, was acquired as a monthly in 1969, and in the quest for more turnover, Haymarket optimistically relauched it as a weekly. Amazingly, it survived and even flourished through the 70s. But by the early 80s, rationalisation was biting deep into the carpet industry. And, with depressing inevitability, the front-page story each week would be about a major company closure. The title was sold in 1982.
16. GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
London Weekly Advertiser had no editorial: just pages of small ads for literally anything more or less legal. On a paper with so many small ads flooding in, quality control was always a problem - and every now and then you did indeed find a baby apparently for sale within its pages, much to That's Life's merriment. After struggling with this title for many years, it was decided that it didn't quite fit with the Haymarket ethos of delivering the highest quality possible and it was sold in 1984. Happily, though, its telesales team was bolted on to a newly acquired car title, Autocar, with more pleasing results.
17. 1994 - FOOTIE LAUNCH SCORES ON DEBUT
Paul Simpson: "August 1994 was a stupid time for Haymarket Publishing to launch a football magazine. England had just failed to qualify for a very boring World Cup, football fans were widely assumed to be drunken thugs and Haymarket's consumer magazines, at that time, served what we called niches, but what our rivals sneered as ghettoes: cars, consumer electronics, caravans and more cars.
"To lengthen the odds still further, the management had asked me to edit it. I had never edited a consumer magazine before, having cut - and lost - my teeth on various business magazines where I had, with a regularity that my publisher clearly found tedious, fallen foul of Robert Maxwell's legal team.
"So I spent the summer trapped in a small, low-ceilinged office, the entrance to which was policed by our publisher who dummied as a security guard. The rest of the editorial team was more brilliant than me yet even more unproven. Olivia Blair, Karen Buchanan and Amy Lawrence all brought tenacity, skill and their own point of view to the magazine. FourFourTwo would not have felt as original without them. The magazine was designed by James Baker, a craftsman whose habit of wearing sunglasses, even indoor, on the drabbest day of the year, gave him a terrifying aura, and Alan Muir, a Scotsman so genial he didn't protest when forced to model a stylish range of FourFourTwo leisurewear. James wrote wondrously apt - but scurrilous - headlines, cover lines and captions. Sadly, his 'God speaks!' cover with Ian Wright on never made it to the newsstands.
"There was much argument about the name. Would people know FourFourTwo was a football magazine? And would fans of teams that played 4-3-3 boycott it? A few anodyne options were considered - Football Monthly was one - but Haymarket, rightly, stuck to its guns, insisting that an intelligent football magazine couldn't have a bland title. Mind you, if I'd known that in Chinese the title roughly translated as 'easy death', we might have changed our minds.
"The funny thing was that the magazine proved - all the conventional wisdom mentioned earlier notwithstanding - to be superbly well timed. The stadiums were in much better nick after some massive compulsory investment and the marketing boys had just come up with the Premiership. Football itself was receptive to the idea - it may be only 13 years ago, but the game was much more innocent then. Best of all, the public, fans who had stayed away, journalists, broadcasters and the blokes in the advertising agencies (as they were mostly were) who booked ad space, were all ready to fall in love with football again. FourFourTwo gave them an excuse to do that. A stealthy launch strategy - let word of mouth spread news about the magazine - just added to its mystique.
"Within 18 months, the title was doing so well that IPC, the BBC and Future had all launched directly against us and Emap tried to steal some of our thunder with Total Sport, its entertaining, ill-fated, attempt to apply the Q magazine formula to sport.
"In magazine publishing - as in football - longevity is one of the surest signs of class and FourFourTwo is gloriously still with us. Edited by the shrewd, mysteriously boyish Hugh Sleight, the magazine has 12 editions across the world, is the biggest-selling sports monthly in the UK, with an ABC of 110,968 and has been reincarnated online as fourfourtwo.com."
Paul Simpson is the editor of Champions and DCM magazine.
18. 1994 - ROAD TESTING AT 240 MPH-PLUS
Steve Sutcliffe: "It's not unduly arrogant or dramatic to say that Autocar invented the road test. Because it did, plain and simple. But that was long before Haymarket took charge of the world's oldest and most respected car magazine in 1988, since when the Autocar road test has got bigger and better. And nowadays, the Autocar road test is widely regarded to be the best in an increasingly competitive business.
"Take, for example, the fact that Autocar was the only magazine in the world to be allowed to road test the McLaren F1 when it was launched in 1994. For three days, Autocar's staffers drove the door handles off the then new F1 on road and track, during which time they unearthed facts and figures about the car which not even McLaren was aware. Like the knowledge that it was faster above 150mph than the company's own Formula One car of the day. And that it would, eventually, reach 242mph on the right piece of road, with the right driver behind the wheel (in that particular case, we recruited the Le Mans 24 hour winner Andy Wallace).
"A year earlier, Autocar was the first magazine in the world to road test the Jaguar XJ220, and since then there have been numerous occasions on which the title has beaten its competition to the most important stories, about the world's most significant new cars.
"Such as the Ford Focus, in which we covered 100 laps of the M25 before any other magazine had so much as driven the car (don't ask why, it seemed like a good idea at the time, probably because it was); the Bugatti Veyron, which this year we tested at 227mph on a derestricted autobahn in Germany at midnight; the BMW M3, which we've beaten the rest of the world to on each occasion a new model has been launched; and recently the new Fiat 500, which we drove and delivered a verdict on long before any other magazine in the world had driven one.
"Such variation of subject material, from the sublime to the ridiculous, is what defines Autocar magazine as something special. Something unique. Week in, week out, Autocar's writers continue to deliver verdicts on cars at every end of the motoring spectrum with unrivalled authority, not to mention an unmatched depth of sincerity and entertainment.
"That's what made the magazine original when it was conceived way back in 1895, and it's what continues to make it the best car magazine and website in the world 111 years later. Genuinely, long may that success continue."
Steve Sutcliffe is the editor-at-large of Autocar.
19. GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
New Health was a title ahead of its time - and the fact that it inspired many new sections across a swathe of national newspapers is a testament to the compelling nature of its vision. In the early 80s, there were plenty of slimming or fitness magazines aimed at women, but they were unintelligent, unchallenging or just plain banal. This despite the fact that there was already a groundswell of serious debate about healthy living issues, not least food additives. New Health, a glossy monthly aimed at 25- to 40-year-old women, succeeded in taking these topics out into the mainstream. It achieved its initial circulation targets (above 75,000) following its launch in 1983, and lasted for three years until (appropriately enough) the newspapers began eating its lunch.
20. GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
The most irksome aspect of the whole Account episode was the fact that Haymarket had launched and built up the hugely successful Accountancy Age, but had sold it in 1980 to VNU. Once the non-compete had expired, Haymarket tried to reclaim a piece of the action (not least its highly lucrative recruitment revenues) in 1985 with the launch of Account, but it didn't exactly help when the task was handed to a editorial team that had been parachuted in from Engineering Today. This sort of trick had worked in the past - and sometimes it pays to shake up the cosy assumptions of a particular marketplace. But from engineering to accountancy proved to be a stretch too far and the title closed within the year.
21. 1996 - DISASTER LEADS TO LICENSING BOOM
Tim Bulley: "'More vodka!' Sergey shouts to the waiter. Bugger, I think, he wants to negotiate this deal tonight. Ukrainians aren't stupid, unlike Englishmen who think that they can drink vodka with the same professionalism as Ukrainians. And now it's time to talk: today we are extending his portfolio into the business-to-business sector.
"It is a long way from 1996, when we started to licence our Formula One Grand Prix magazine, F1 Racing. I was the ad manager at the time, and our clients (principally sponsors of Formula One) had international objectives. We knew that we would need to have international editions with credible circulations if we were going to be even remotely relevant to these clients.
"We decided that we should launch a German edition ourselves - it was a disaster.
"We didn't understand how difficult it would be to sell an international F1 magazine to a German audience - especially one that didn't share our view that Damon Hill should be World Champion, and that Michael Schumacher was the Red Baron.
"That may be over-simplifying the cause of the failure, but it holds a kernel of truth: you can't simply translate a magazine and expect it to succeed.
"Your product must be relevant to its market, and that means using local experts who understand their fellow countrymen - and that means finding local publishers who wanted to work with us. Once we'd learned that lesson, there was no holding us back.
"It seems fitting that, ten years later, we came full circle and launched our 100th licence edition in Germany.
"Riding in on the wave of German World Cup fever, our football magazine FourFourTwo got off to a great start, beating off the nearest competitor within six months of its launch. Its success is a credit to our partner's understanding of German football: they immerse themselves in the industry, and publish a magazine that is relevant to their market, while extolling the brand values that made FourFourTwo such a success in the UK.
"Over the last decade, our approach has been to form real two-way partnerships with publishers. We work with people who share the same values and passion for editorial excellence. Our editors and ad managers see our partners as extensions of their own teams, sharing ideas, contacts and developing content together.
"It's through this close co-operation that we develop an understanding of each of our respective businesses, working together, exploring new opportunities. In many cases this has been the bedrock of our expansion into new markets, Haymarket's business in India started out as an Autocar licence, for example.
"Our ad and customer publishing clients have also benefited from this approach. We supply creative, international, local language initiatives that are developed and delivered with local knowledge. We now have 110 licences, spanning consumer and business titles, in 31 different languages. We work with 65 publishers in more than 40 countries across the globe.
"I got off an airplane barely an hour ago; Sergey's local knowledge is serving me well. He is ordering a second bottle of vodka, and is talking fast about how the print industry in Russia and Ukraine is booming, and why now is precisely the right time to launch PrintWeek.
"We have looked at the numbers, and they work. Having enjoyed tremendous success with What Hi-Fi Sound & Vision and Autocar in the region, we trust his judgment. He raises his glass: 'NA ZDAROVYA!' It's time to do the deal."
Tim Bulley is the licensing director at Haymarket Media Group.
22. 1997 - HESELTINE RETURNS
David Fraser: "There's a story about Michael ringing up the day after the 1997 general election and saying: 'So, where's my desk then?' The truth was there was no space, so there was no desk anyway.
"What really happened was that he rang Lindsay (Masters, then chairman of Haymarket Group) and said: 'You may have noticed that I'm unemployed. I thought I might come back.'
"It had always been understood that when Michael left frontline politics, Haymarket would claim his heart and attention. Besides, he had a long-standing agreement to buy out the three other shareholders, Lindsay, Simon (Tindall, then managing director of the group) and myself.
"While he waited for an office, Michael familiarised himself with the company he had founded 40 years previously. He could see that it was well-run so he directed his attention to Haymarket's development and evolution rather than its day-to-day operations. His vision was that the opportunities lay overseas, especially in Asia and the US. We had got started in the US many years ago, and had had partnerships in Europe, but the progress was slow.
"But Michael saw how we could develop our brands and become a global player. By 1998 we had opened in Hong Kong, launched PRWeek in the US and acquired a PR title in Germany. He believed that we should launch into emerging markets or new sectors, publish quality titles and then grow with the market or sector. PRWeek US (p36) is a classic case of the successful export of a strong UK brand into a global market. Michael led that one personally, and there is no doubt that he was able to open doors we couldn't on our own.
"I remember Michael coming back from a meeting with Terry Mansfield (then the chief executive of The National Magazine Company) most impressed with all the foreign editions of Cosmopolitan on Terry's shelf. So he pushed us into international licensing, which has been another arm of our overseas growth.
"The other area where Michael had a major impact was in online publishing. He had the insight to see, even in 1997, that this was an area that was going to revolutionise publishing, but that there would be a bubble first.
"So we were cautious about throwing everything at it as other publishers were. Today, we can look back and say we avoided the worst excesses of the dotcom bubble of 2000-01 but positioned ourselves to take advantage of it after the shake-out. We have a significant presence in Asia, the US and Germany, and 110 licences in 40 countries. Those were the areas Michael set out to have an impact on, and he has."
David Fraser was Haymarket's finance director from 1969 to 2005.
23. GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
The plan with Classic & Sports Car International in 1992 was to emulate the stylish Retromobile show in Paris - but make it more mainstream by holding it at the NEC. An independent exhibition organiser was brought in but it became apparent that it couldn't reach the required standards. So it was all hands to the pump as a new Haymarket division began importing cars from all around the world, the highlight of which was securing the loan of Adolf Hitler's Mercedes from a casino owner in Las Vegas. The show needed huge amounts of space and it made sense for the NEC itself to take over its running - but the new division went straight out and had a huge hit with its next project, the Clothes Show exhibition.
24. GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Encore was a music title aimed at a readership similar to the Virgin Radio audience, and indeed it was sponsored by Virgin. Launched in May 1995, into the glossy space defined by titles such Q and Mojo, it was well received by the ad industry - but it failed to resonate because Encore's tone was too nostalgic. It closed after one issue. This should have fed suspicions that popular music was not Haymarket's forte; but that didn't stop it launching Rip and Burn in 2004, a music title that offered "how to" advice on downloading. But it went the way of Encore. Young people were used to downloading music for free; they didn't think they should pay for a mag about it, either.
25. 1997 - THE PURCHASE OF PLANNING
Stephen Farish: "Admittedly, the launch of a failed magazine for town planners doesn't sound like a shoe-in for the Haymarket hall of fame. But hindsight's a wonderful thing.
"As ever, the idea came from someone's wife's brother who stumbled on a dry-looking magazine for planners that appeared to be stuffed full of recruitment ads. It looked ripe for the launch of a competitor - so in March 1996 that's what Haymarket did.
"The existing magazine was called Planning. Eschewing the need for brand consultants, it was decided that ours would be called Planning Week.
"The only other title in the market was published by the Royal Town Planning Institute, so Patrick Fuller, then the MD of Haymarket's Trade and Leisure titles, set about persuading the Institute to join forces. Eventually they agreed and struck a partnership deal that remains in place.
"For a while things went well. Then the magazine actually launched.
"Despite the best efforts of Patrick and his team, Planning Week could never get above a 30 per cent market share. Planning remained resilient.
"After just four months and under heavy fire, Patrick fought an internal battle to keep the magazine going. He found a powerful ally in the group MD Simon Tindall, who also wanted to fight on, but suggested an alternative strategy - buy the opposition.
"There then followed a series of pleasant but inconclusive lunches in country house hotels. After six months of this, one of the owners appeared ready to sell and a price was agreed. Weeks later, terrified by a meeting with our lawyer, he called it off again.
"All seemed lost until Patrick recalled that one of the vendors was a racing fan. As a last throw of the dice he suggested that Simon (Tindall), an ardent race-goer himself, invite him to Cheltenham.
"It worked. By the end of the day, in an advanced state of refreshment, a new deal and price had been agreed.
"So in June 1997, Planning was acquired. By then Planning Week had already moved to join the other business titles in Hammersmith under Martin Durham. Martin immediately merged the two titles - as Planning.
"From that point on, Planning took off. It is now Haymarket's most successful business title, and provides its RTPI partner with a handsome dividend as well as a quality read for its members. Not only that but in 2001, along with its original Trade and Leisure stablemate Horticulture Week, it formed the basis of the Professional division.
"Since then we've expanded to include sectors like regeneration, children's and youth services, charities and the environment as well as planning. We've launched five more magazines and acquired six. We now run seven sets of awards; 28 conferences; one forum; eight directories; four exhibitions; three information database services; and three major websites. From the original 20 or so staff on Planning, our division now comprises ten brands and employs 200 people in London, Gloucester and Brussels.
"But none of this would have been possible without the curiosity of an in-law, Patrick's patient wooing of the RTPI, Simon's refusal to give in, and, of course, a day at the races."
Stephen Farish is the managing director of Haymarket Professional.