"Through the past three decades, Northern & Shell has grown by making the most of its opportunities"
Through the past three decades, Northern & Shell Network has grown by making the most of its opportunities, and in turn by making opportunities for others. In 1974 it started out as a small publishing company with limitless vision. Publishing a single music title with a few hundred thousand copies a year, determination, radical ideas and attention to detail were used to make the most of a specialised market.
From beginnings with music magazines the group developed into a worldwide presence during the late 1970s. Market share was expanded by recognising new opportunities in adjacent areas of the leisure and specialist magazine markets.
By the early 1980s the group had broadened its publishing base and also owned a fully recognised advertising agency. In 1982 Northern & Shell became the first company to put up its own building in London's burgeoning Docklands - a bold move affording opportunities for ever more rapid expansion. Through the 1980s further specialised magazines were added and the acquisition in 1983 of the UK licence to publish Penthouse led to a range of adult titles, which were sold in 2004. Meanwhile successes in celebrity publishing and women's titles laid the groundwork for yet more ambitious undertakings.
The launch of OK! magazine brought together all the Network's strengths. There were celebrity connections from the music magazines and a wide-ranging and technically innovative production base. Decision-making could be rapid, thanks to short lines of communication and there was tight control due to ownership of ancillary functions such as reproduction and distribution. There was commitment and stamina to invest and keep on investing until the title reached the status of market leader.
Meanwhile the group's television business prospered and in the late 1990s Northern & Shell began to be independently valued at up to £500 million. All or part of Express Newspapers had been identified as a possible acquisition by Northern & Shell as early as the 1980s. Talks in 1993 were inconclusive, but in year 2000 Northern & Shell was ready. From the moment that United News & Media announced it was open to offers, Northern & Shell's ability to act quickly, quietly and decisively came into its own. In a matter of weeks finance from Commerzbank was in place, talks had been concluded and Northern & Shell was privileged by stewardship of a unique part of Britain's media heritage.
The acquisition of the Channel 5 network in July 2010 cemented the company's position as Britain's fastest growing media group with leading assets in publishing, broadcasting and digital media.