With more than 60 titles ranging from Fish Friers Review to Café Culture , the hospitality sector of B2B publishing is incredibly diverse.
With the revolution in British dining over the past decade, the boom in tourism and the disaster of foot and mouth disease and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease seemingly over, it’s also a buoyant one.
The latest entrant into the sector is Chain Leader , a monthly publication from Reed Business Publishing aimed at senior people in pub, restaurant and bar chains, which will launch next month.
But is there room for another magazine in what is already a crowded marketplace? Most B2B publishers have at least one, if not several, hospitality titles: RBI has Caterer & Hotelkeeper ; Quantum Business Media (owner of Media Week ) has The Publican ; Dewberry Boyes has Restaurant Business; William Reed has Pub Chef.
Given the expansive nature of the hospitality industry it has naturally attracted a broad spectrum of advertisers such as garden furniture providers, property developers and food and drink suppliers.
With the onslaught of coffee and food chains into the UK high street, RBI believes it has hit a niche market with Chain Leader .
Forbes Mutch, group development editor of The Caterer Group and editor-in-chief of Chain Leader , says the publication is mainly aimed at senior managers with purchasing power and responsibility for budgets of £100,000.
“Chains are becoming increasingly dominant and there is a real requirement for serious business analysis in this sector,” Mutch says.
“Group operators need to be kept up to date on key marketing issues, customer trends and competitor intelligence.”
Chain Leader already has competition in the form of the quarterly Food Service Director , which was launched last November by Dewberry Boyes.
Dewberry Boyes chairman Alan Dewberry believes RBI launched in response to Food Service Director and is confident that the market is responding well to the title.
“We believe that food services directors need a quarterly rundown – it is a business thing,” Dewberry says.
Nonetheless, this is the first RBI hospitality offering for more than a decade – a move that Mutch feels is indicative of the sector enjoying a renewed sense of growth.
“If you look at hospitality over the past five years it has been through a number of challenges, for example foot and mouth, BSE and CJD put people off eating out, then we had September 11 and uncertainty about war in Iraq and the Middle East,” Mutch says. “We have come through all of that and the market is picking up and beginning to show signs of continued robustness.”
David Goulthorpe, publishing director of The Publican and Flavour, describes the hospitality market as “a buoyant, vibrant sector, which is currently having to grapple with many different issues including licensing reform, binge drinking debates and a ban on smoking”.
Goulthorpe adds: “In terms of magazine publishing, the pub sector has proved itself to be remarkably resilient and this has helped The Publican .”
So much so that Quantum’s owner has been reported to be contemplating selling the title, along with other parts of the business.
The hospitality media sector has also embraced online opportunities with sites such as caterer.com and the publican.
com providing a database of thousands of jobs accessible free to registered users.
Yet Jools Ellis, account manager at Jellybean Creative Solutions, an integrated marketing agency in Surrey that specialises in food advertising in the B2B food sector, believes the hospitality market is near saturation point.
“We have a breadth of magazines that focus on the independent market of hotels, pubs and clubs,” Ellis says.
“There are so many of them out there vying for our media spend that it’s difficult to know which ones to go for and at some point something has to give.”
Guy Sellers, joint managing director of Total Media, says a booming economy often leads to a plethora of B2B launches that may not be sustainable in the long run.
“Quite often if you’re getting a growing market, you tend to get a lot of advertising-led launches that disappear equally quickly when the market turns down and newcomers tend to be the first to go,” Sellers says.
“It’s been my experience across all B2B sectors that a downturn is worse for secondary launches for advertising reasons than those that are there to fill an editorial niche,” he adds.
Ellis predicts that publishers will explore digital options, as RBI is doing with Chain Leader , and also consider consolidation, as Dewberry Boyes is doing with the merger of Pub Business and Restaurant Business into Eat Out from March.
RBI is producing 10,000 hard copies of Chain Leader and an additional 20,000 digital editions to be dispatched to the next level of management.
Mutch says opening up distribution on an electronic basis to anyone who works in or is involved in the hospitality industry means lower costs and increased circulation.
“The digital audience is also more attractive to recruitment advertisers who might be less inclined to support an exclusive top-end business magazine unless it was going to amass jobseeker market,” Mutch says.
In contrast, Dewberry Boyes has considered and rejected the digital path.
“We won’t be going down the route of publishing magazines on computers,” Dewberry says.
Instead, the company has chosen to invest in diversified marketing options such as events, conferences, exhibitions and awards associations.
Dewberry says the decision to merge Pub Business and Restaurant Business was prompted by the changing nature of the restaurant industry, in particular the growth of gastropubs and the improved level of hotel catering.
Through Red Point, a marketing communications agency it acquired five years ago, Dewberry Boyes also provides specific information for the market.
“We publish specifically for the food industry and see ourselves as part of that industry,” Dewberry says.
“We consider direct marketing as the fastest growing sector. The market has changed, advertisers want more and we can now provide direct marketing as part of our offering.”
Jellybean’s Ellis agrees that diversification into other areas such as awards and conferences will continue to be a substantial feature of the hospitality magazine market.
“I think that similar titles can survive if they have developed and extended their brand identity beyond just magazines and then drill their focus down and communicate to agencies as to what their point of difference is,” she says.
Looking to the future for hospitality publishing, insiders are positive. “We are all optimistic. Advertising across all magazines is picking up, I see the market being very rosy,” says Dewberry.
Mutch adds that restaurants and hotels need to replace products acquired 10 years ago, opening up huge opportunities for manufacturers.
“There was a lot of money being spent on hospitality, but that’s on a 10-year cycle and it’s coming to the end and needing to be replaced,” he says. “There is a big opportunity for manufacturers to get in there.”
It might be a crowded marketplace, but with the tradition of the Friday night beer still going strong and Britons spending increasing sums on dining out, the hospitality business isn’t going to get any smaller.
And, as the industry grows, so too will the publishing opportunities surrounding it.
Hospitality breakdown: the main players in the UK
Reed Business Information
Caterer & Hotelkeeper
Caterer & Hotelkeeper Directory
Caterer.com News Alert
Catering & Licensing Review
Cost Sector Catering
FD (the official magazine of the Food Development Association)
Year Books for the Local Authority Caterers Association, National Association of Care Catering and the Hospital Caterers Association
Quantum Business Media
Hotel & Restaurant magazine
William Reed Publishing
This article was first published on Media Week