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William Reed Publishing Ltd. Business Information, Profile, and History

Broadfield Park
RH11 9RT
United Kingdom

Company Perspectives

William Reed's mission is to be the market leading provider of business media in the food and drink sectors across the UK. Providing our customers with all the quality information they need through our portfolio of magazines, events, exhibitions, directories, online media, newsletters and related activities. William Reed Core Values: Customers are at the forefront of everything we do; Ideas are constantly challenged to develop next generation solutions; Business is conducted openly and fairly--but we compete fiercely; Team-work is encouraged with individual flair for the best results; Tough goals are set--and we enjoy the challenge of beating them.

History of William Reed Publishing Ltd.

William Reed Publishing Ltd. is one of the United Kingdom's leading private publishers of specialized trade magazines, including its oldest and flagship magazine, The Grocer. First published in 1862, The Grocer remains the leading magazine targeting the supermarket sector in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, with a circulation of more than 43,000 copies. In addition to that title, William Reed publishes a number of specialist titles, focused on the grocery, retailing, drinks & hospitality, and food manufacturing industries. The company's nearly 20 magazine titles include Convenience Store, Morning Advertiser, Food Manufacture, British Baker, Forecourt Trader, Multiple Buyer & Retailer, and Restaurant Magazine. William Reed also publishes newsletters and directories, including Hotel Report, Leisure Report, M&C Report, Morning Advertiser Directory, Restaurant Handbook, The Grocer Directories, and a number of annual business guides for the retail, restaurant, travel, gaming, and related industries. William Reed has extended its publishing empire to the Internet, with web sites supporting many of its publications, as well as Internet-specific sites, such as grocerjobs.co.uk, foodmanjobs.co.uk, and careersinfoodanddrink.co.uk. The company also has parlayed its specialist publishing status into one of the United Kingdom's major events operations. Each year, the company hosts a variety of annual events, conferences, exhibitions, and awards, including the Baking Industry Awards, the Bar Awards, the Grocer Gold Awards, International Beer Competition, and the like. William Reed Limited remains a privately owned company led by the Reed family, now in its fifth generation under Charles Reed.

Founding a Trade Publisher in the 19th Century

Born in 1830, William Reed's early working life included a career as a sugar merchant. A Yorkshire native, Reed developed contacts with many of England's grocers, as well as an insight into issues specific to this sector. In the early 1860s, Reed prepared to marry into the prominent Morgan family. The five Morgan brothers, who originally had established themselves as bankers, but also owned businesses in ironmongering and "sundries," had entered into the publishing business in 1859, with the publications of The Ironmonger and Chemist & Druggist. Initially intended to support their other businesses, both titles quickly became popular trade magazines and indeed were credited with pioneering the trade journal market in England. Morgan Brothers eventually came to focus on publishing, going public in 1949, and later merging with Grampian and forming the basis of United Business Media. Chemist & Druggist itself remained in print into the 21st century.

William Reed decided to capitalize on his knowledge of the grocery sector, and founded a new company, William Reed Publishing, in London. In 1862 Reed launched his own trade title, The Grocer. Featuring news items and focusing on issues related to the retail sector, The Grocer found ready success among Britain's grocers. By 1863, Reed had begun expanding his scope, adding a supplement, the Wine Trade Review, to his magazine. The following year, Reed targeted the brewing industry, with the Brewers Journal, and its supplement, Hop & Malt Trades Review.

William Reed died in 1920 and was succeeded by his son, Leicester Morgan Reed, a successful lawyer, who continued building on his father's success. In 1927, the company reincorporated as a registered private company, and Reed took up the position of chairman of the board and managing director. The company expanded its title range again in the mid-1930s, when the Wine and Spirit Trade Review was published as a separate magazine for the first time in 1935.

The next generation of Reeds took over in 1944, under CW Reed. Serving as managing director and chairman into the early 1980s, CW Reed oversaw the company's expansion. In 1959, the company began publishing its "Grocer buff list," providing a comprehensive listing of manufacturer's suggested retail prices for the supermarket industry. The company added new titles in the 1970s, including Off License News, covering the retail alcoholic beverage trade, in 1970, and acquiring Cash and Carry News in 1974. That title was later replaced by a new, more expansive journal, Independent Retailer and Caterer, in 1981.

By then, William Reed had begun to explore new business opportunities that allowed the company to capitalize on the success of The Grocer and other titles in its list. In the late 1970s, Reed started developing its expertise in the organization of events, notably with the launch of the annual Sales Assistant of the Year Awards, held for the first time in 1979.

Diversifying Products: 1987-99

The success of this event led the company to develop other events, awards, and conferences, such as the Baking Industry Awards, which debuted in 1987 in association with British Baker magazine. By then, the company had added another highly successful new title, Convenience Store, launched in 1985, which boasted a circulation even higher than Reed's Grocer flagship by the end of the century.

In 1990, William Reed, led by Laurence Reed since 1984, added a new Directories division when it acquired the Food directory from Britain Buyers Guide. The company added a number of other directory titles, such as the Grocer Directory of Manufacturers & Suppliers, Morning Advertiser Directory, and Retail & Shopping Centre Directory, through the 1990s.

William Reed also continued to develop its range of events, adding the Grocery Advertising and Marketing Industry Awards in 1994, the International Beer Competition in 1995, the Supermeat Awards in 1999, and the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards in 2001.

During the 1990s, William Reed continued to expand its range of products for the retailing sector, adding titles such as Forecourt Trader in 1991, which was expanded with the addition of Forecourt News in 1996, and Value Retailer in 1995 (renamed as Multiple Buyer and Retailer in 1998).

During the late 1990s, William Reed began expanding its media range, notably with the launch of web sites backing a number of its titles. In 1998, the company also launched a new division, the William Reed Knowledge Store, providing a range of database, directory, and other support services to the food and food retailing industry. The following year, the company added a new web site and service, grocerjobs.co.uk. This site was followed by a second jobs search site, foodmanjobs.co.uk, in 2001. The online version of The Grocer went live the following year. By then, William Reed had expanded its Grocer franchise to include GrocerTV, a half-hour program presented on the Sky Digital television service.

Acquisitions in 2000

Into the 2000s, William Reed, which then came under the leadership of the fifth generation of the Reed family, Charles Reed, launched a new expansion drive. Acquisitions became an important feature of the company's growth during this time. In 1999, for example, the company acquired CTN, a weekly targeting the confectionery, tobacco, and news agency market, from Quantum Publishing. The company then merged that title into The Grocer in order to expand the latter's range of coverage of the retail sector.

In 2000, William Reed acquired the Morning Advertiser, which had been in publication since 1794. The company also added Food Manufacture magazine that year. In 2003, William Reed acquired Martin Info, then followed that purchase in 2004 with the acquisition of Food Trade Directories. Not all of the group's growth came through acquisitions, however. In 2001, the company launched a new title, CLASS magazine. This was followed by the launches of Scottish Local Retailer and MA Scotland in 2004.

The company also continued to extend its magazine titles into other categories, particularly the organization of awards events. CLASS magazine was extended in 2003 with the creation of the Bar Awards. This event was joined that same year by the Grocer Gold Awards. Also in 2003, the company launched a new jobs fair seminar, Careers in Food & Drink Live! The success of the group's events operations led it to create a new division, for its conferences activities, in 2004.

In the mid-2000s, William Reed continued to seek out new expansion opportunities. At the beginning of 2005, the company acquired the license to publish Pro Wholesaler, originally launched in 1989 by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors. Soon after, the company expanded its events offering with the purchase of Foodex Meatex, the leading trade show for the U.K. meat industry. In June 2005, the company formed a joint venture with The Restaurant Game, called William Reed Hospitality. That venture combined the magazine titles Restaurant and Hotel & Restaurant, with events including the Restaurant Live and the World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards. By the end of that year, the company had added several more titles, including Wine and Spirit International, Drinks International, and Wine International, as well as the awards events International Wine Challenge and International Spirits Challenge, from Wilmington Group. Also in that year, the company acquired British Baker, first published in 1885, and Meat Trades Journal, which appeared by the early 1890s. As it approached its 150th anniversary, William Reed Publishing remained a dedicated partner to the United Kingdom's food and food retail industries.

Principal Subsidiaries

William Reed Hospitality.

Principal Competitors

News Corporation Ltd.; Pearson PLC; Reed Elsevier PLC; United Business Media PLC; Thomson Corporation PLC; Modern Times Group; Wenner Media; Ziff-Davis Inc.


  • Key Dates
  • 1862 William Reed founds a publishing company in London and launches The Grocer magazine.
  • 1863 The company launches the Wine Trade Review as a supplement to The Grocer.
  • 1920 William Reed dies and son Leicester Morgan Reed takes over as head of the company.
  • 1927 William Reed Publishing incorporates as a registered private company.
  • 1935 A separate magazine, Wine and Spirit Trade Review, is launched.
  • 1954 William Reed introduces the "Grocer buff list."
  • 1974 Cash and Carry magazine is acquired.
  • 1979 The Sales Assistant of the Year Award is launched as the company expands into event organization.
  • 1985 Convenience Store magazine is launched.
  • 1987 The Baking Industry Awards are launched in partnership with the British Baker magazine.
  • 1990 William Reed acquires the Food directory and launches its Directories division.
  • 1994 The company launches the Grocery Advertising and Marketing Industry Awards.
  • 1995 The International Beer Competition is launched.
  • 1999 William Reed launches the Supermeat Awards, as well as the web site, grocerjobs.co.uk.
  • 2000 The company launches GrocerTV; Morning Advertiser is acquired.
  • 2002 The company launches grocer.co.uk.
  • 2003 Martin Info is acquired.
  • 2004 The company launches Scottish Local Retailer and MA Scotland, acquires Food Trade Directories, and establishes a conference division.
  • 2005 The company acquires trade show Foodex Meatex, as well as publication titles Meat Trades Journal, Hotel & Restaurant, and Restaurant.

Additional topics

Company HistoryPublishing

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