The final stages have been put to the takeover of UK wine trade weekly Harpers – with staff from the editor down told to reapply for their jobs or face redundancy.
William Reed Business Media (WRBM) – publisher of Off Licence News, the Grocer, Restaurant magazine and a raft of respected hospitality trade titles – bought Harpers earlier this month.
Uncertainty swirls around the deal, which was completed on 14 November. There is speculation that Harpers will be turned into a fortnightly title, published alongside – or in different weeks to – the fortnightly Off Licence News.
Publishing staff at William Reed have been unavailable for comment since the deal was first reported.
What is known is that the weekly Harpers has been amalgamated with WRBM’s existing title Wine and Spirit.
WRBM bought Wine and Spirit from Wilmington in 2005, and turned it from a consumer monthly into a consumer/trade hybrid.
Wine and Spirit will now close, and all remaining Harpers staff are being relocated to WRBM’s headquarters in West Sussex.
WRBM already owns the International Wine Challenge wine competition. Another competition, the International Wine and Spirit Challenge, remains with former Harpers publisher Nexus Business Media.
In a page two article in this week’s Harpers, WRBM drinks division managing director Andrew Reed says there is an opportunity to ‘enhance Harpers’ reputation as the information source for the drinks industry’.
He added that WRMB would conduct extensive research into the industry’s information needs.
All editorial staff, including editor Richard Siddle, are reapplying for their jobs or leaving.
Wine and Spirit editor David Williams had already left the title before the purchase.
Written by Adam Lechmere