Stagnito, Inc. announced yesterday that they will be creating a new subsidiary, Food Media Group LLC, after the acquisition of the Retail Food Group from Nielsen Business Media. These Nielsen sales follow a string of divestitures that have included the sale of Nielsen's media properties including the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard.
For Harry Stagnito and sons, it is a return to the industries they have been associated with for years. Harry Stagnito formed his first company in 1990, Stagnito Publishing Company, with two food magazines. In 1997 Stagnito sold off his magazines, included Beverage Industry and Refrigerated & Frozen Foods, to Medical World Communications. In 1995 the properties were sold as part of the Ascend Media acquisition. After functioning as a separate unit within Ascend, the Stagnito properties were again sold, this time to BNP Media in 2007 where the Stagnito name was stripped from the properties.
Now Stagnito is back, funded by Cardinal Growth, LP, a private capital company out of Chicago (Stagnito Media is headquartered in Deerfield, IL.)
“We’re excited about re-entering the food industry with the acquisition of such highly recognized and respected food media brands, and related products. Our goal is to introduce a new business model to the food market to take advantage of the trend towards targeted and measurable integrated media,” said Harry Stagnito, President and CEO.
The new food group will contain some very powerful brands that have seen better times: Progressive Grocer used to lead the market but has fallen badly behind Grocery Headquarters; The Gourmet Retailer was also a magazine thick with ads, but it faces stiff competition from Specialty Food, an association owned publication who also manages the industries premier trade show, the Fancy Food Show; and Convenience Store News, a magazine that was able to take advantage of the growth of stores within gas stations, as well as the general growth of the 7/11, also faces competition from the industries trade association that has its own magazine and trade show.
Progressive Grocer's decline has been swift -- going from an 18 time frequency with a BPA audited circulation of over 43,000 to an eight time frequency and a BPA showing a circulation level of just over 35,000. (Grocery Headquarters has also lowered its circulation, now at 33,000 from around 40,000.) Progressive Grocer's editorial calendar shows that the magazine plans to increase its frequency back to ten issues for 2010.
Stagnito Media's other group is made up of CE News and Structural Engineering & Design, magazines formerly owned by Mercor Media, another company backed by Cardinal Growth. These properties were taken over by Zweig White as part of a merging of the two companies before being sold once again to Stagnito Media. (Follow the bouncing ball.)
This sale does not put Nielsen completely out of the trade publishing game, but they are getting closer. Nielsen's own web site for business media is basically a blank page. But other properties do remain: the Adweek / Brandweek / Mediaweek group, for instance, as well as their National Jewelry Network group.
Neither Nielsen's brand web sites, nor Stagnito Media's web sites, are exactly cutting edge. Each are cookie-cutter sites, designed identically with each other site in the group. Stagnito Media's sites, such as the site for CE News contains some news, though it has been a week since any new copy has been put up on the site.
If New Media is not going to resurrect the food magazines strong ad sales might. Harry Stagnito's career goes back to Gorman Publishing, a product news publisher in the food industry that stressed high volume ad sales. Stagnito told Folio: in 1994 that "we ran Gorman with an entrepreneurial attitude even though it became a relatively good-size company. It had a fast turnaround, high-quality, high-goals orientation. We're building a mini-Gorman, but we'll do it better," Stagnito said of his new company at the time. Gorman Publishing was sold in December 1991 to a division of Reed Elsevier and that division was eventually merged with Cahners, now Reed Business Information.