The sale included Maclean’s, the storied and sometimes controversial news magazine whose circulation dwindled as readers migrated to digital media. Unconfirmed media reports since last year had said Rogers was looking to sell the magazine along with the French and English versions of Chatelaine, Today’s Parent and Hello! Canada.
The purchase from Rogers also includes the digital publications Flare and Canadian Business, which no longer have print editions, and a custom content business.
St. Joseph Communications, a closely held printing and publishing company based in Toronto, bought the titles for an undisclosed sum. SJC publishes Toronto Life, Fashion Magazine, Weddingbells and several other titles.
Tony Gagliano, executive chairman and CEO of the company, expressed optimism about adding the Rogers titles to its stable of print properties. SJC has developed revenue from events, membership benefits and data-mining to target audiences based on their interests and behaviors.
“What we have done — I think what we’re good at — is finding new revenue opportunities, where sometimes traditional advertising has fallen by the wayside,” Gagliano told the Financial Post. He said print publications have an advantage over digital media in providing portable content that doesn’t require searching through the internet.
Rogers began to scale back its print magazine business in 2016, while focusing on sports content, including its ownership of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team. The company sold its trade publications to B2B firm EnsembleIQ and French-language title L’Actualité to Québécois entrepreneur Alexandre Taillefer.
The company also unloaded its stake interest in Texture, a digital magazine service that Apple is expected to transform into a “Netflix of magazines.” The tech giant likely will reveal its Apple News Magazines platform and a video-streaming service at a March 25 event.
Last summer, Rogers Media cut one-third of its digital content and publishing department, the second round of job cuts after reducing head count in 2016.
SJC has offered full-time employment to the 125 staffers it’s bringing aboard from Rogers Media.
After the deal closes next month, I wouldn’t be surprised if SJC trims staff and repopulates key management jobs with its own people. The #learntocode hashtag may start to trend again on Twitter before getting blocked.