The Archant story began over 165 years ago when four free-thinking Norfolk businessmen launched its first ever publication – a weekly newspaper, the Norfolk News.
Throughout its many years of development, and several transformations, Archant and its publications and products have been at the very heart of the communities which they serve - informing, educating, entertaining and inspiring them.
Archant has remained a family owned business, focusing on providing different forms of community media, since its inception and that very first weekly broadsheet newspaper.
Today the communities are much more numerous and diverse, based around locations from East Anglia to Cornwall and Sussex to Yorkshire and communities of interest from photographers to gardeners and brides to sport enthusiasts.
Just as diverse are the different media formats in which Archant now specialises – ranging from daily newspapers to monthly county magazines, from specialist websites to iPad Apps and from awards events to wedding shows.
Archant remains a thriving and innovative community media business, which is one of the leading privately-owned regional newspaper group and county magazine publishers in the UK.
Here is its story…
Jacob Henry Tillett, Jeremiah Colman, John Copeman and Thomas Jarrold began the journey by launching the Norwich-based Norfolk News in 1845. The Colman and Copeman families still retain close involvement in the business.
The Eastern Weekly Press was launched in 1867 and in 1870 was renamed the Eastern Daily Press. A sister title, the Eastern Evening News was launched in 1882. As the business grew it moved premises in 1902, 1959 and again in the late 1960s to its present headquarters location at Prospect House in the centre of Norwich.
At the end of the sixties, Eastern Counties Newspapers began its corporate journey with the coming together of ECN and the East Anglian Daily Times Company to form Eastern Counties Newspapers Group (ECNG).
ECNG developed further with the launch of Community Media Limited (CML) in 1981, a weeklies publishing operation based in Bath which launched and acquired titles in Scotland and the West Country.
In 1985, ECNG purchased the East Anglia-based Advertiser group of weekly free newspapers.
ECNG itself grew in 1993 when it bought four weekly newspapers in Huntingdon, Ely, Wisbech and March from Thomson. The acquisition of Peterhead-based P Scrogie followed shortly afterwards.
In April 1998, ECNG bought Home Counties Newspapers Holdings plc with an agreed bid of approximately £58m. HCNH published a range of 26 weekly paid and free titles across Greater London and the Home Counties. The title portfolio included the Hampstead & Highgate Express, the South Essex Recorder series, the Herts Advertiser series, the Comet series, the Herald group and the Welwyn & Hatfield Times.
Consumer magazine publisher Market Link Publishing, the forerunner of Archant Specialist, was acquired by ECNG for £5m in autumn 1999. Its titles include Photography Monthly, Professional Photographer, Pilot and Sport Diver.
The launch of a county magazine in Norfolk in 2000 saw the beginning of what became Archant Life, the country's biggest publisher of county magazines. The division was subsequently given scale through acquisitions and launches in the North West and North East, the Midlands , East, South West, South and South East of England.
In March 2002, ECNG changed its name to Archant, a move prompted by the broadening geographic scope and growing range of its activities.
In December 2003, Archant purchased 27 weekly newspapers from Independent News and Media in two separate deals worth up to £62m. The titles included the Islington Gazette, the East London Advertiser, the Barking & Dagenham Post and the Kentish Times series.
Archant acquired two magazine publishers Romsey Publishing Group in early 2005, which became part of Archant Specialist, and Highbury Local Publications, which became part of Archant Life and Archant London.
In summer 2005, Archant Anglia was merged with Archant Norfolk and the newly created Archant Herts & Cambs, a division of Archant Regional.
Early in 2006, Metropolis Publishing's six London lifestyle magazine titles were added to the Archant Life stable. They were quickly joined by six county magazine titles in the Midlands from Advent Media.
April 2007 saw Archant Scotland 's eight newspaper titles sold to Johnston Press for around £11m.
In February 2008, Archant acquired Compass Magazine and its four monthly regional magazines in Dorset, Hampshire and Surrey.
Archant Print completed an £8m project in September 2009 to bring its press centre in Norwich up to ten printing towers with associated equipment.
In May 2010, Archant launched Cambridge First, a weekly newspaper in Cambridge .
Archant acquired KOS Media Publishing Ltd for an undisclosed sum in June 2010. KOS Media publishes the award-winning Kent on Sunday, a series of free weekly newspapers, magazines, websites and mobile products.
In May 2011, Archant Life acquired the Wye Valley Life and Life in The Marches titles from Wye Valley Media Ltd.
Archant completed a change to its legal structure to simplify the trading companies into one single legal entity – now called Archant Community Media Limited – in November 2011. This does not change the name of the group which remains as Archant Ltd.
In January 2012, Archant launched the unique iwitness24 community news platform that aims to transform the way it gathers news. It is designed to allow readers to contribute pictures and videos in a quick and easy way.
In August 2013 Archant announced completion of the acquisition of www.planningfinder.com, an online portal to allow users to search for planning applications and has extended the reach of the service to cover over 430 local authorities.
In March 2014, Archant launched Mustard TV, a local TV station on Freeview Channel 8, broadcasting to Norwich and parts of Norfolk.
The story continues…
© Archant Ltd 2013