Even before Sunday Business launched last weekend, its founder and
editor Tom Rubython was doing what he has always done - attracting
The run up to the launch of the broadsheet had all the Rubython
hallmarks - problems with printers, with raising cash and with the
companies his paper is writing about. Yet Rubython succeeded in getting
the newspaper out, albeit a bit late and with only five of the promised
six sections. But as one industry source put it, without Tom there
wouldn’t be Sunday Business.
There is certainly no doubting Rubython’s determination. The same drive
which ensured that Sunday Business came out ensured that Rubython’s
previous ventures also took off. Sunday Business is his fourth, and by
far his most ambitious project, to date.
The Northampton-born son of a millionaire yacht broker, Rubython began
his working life in 1978 as a sales executive for Princess Yachts
International. In 1979 he set up a sales and marketing business and in
1981 launched his first magazine Marketeer which he later sold to
Centaur. Rubython used the money from the sale of Marketeer to set up
the fruit machine industry magazine Amusement Business. He relaunched it
in 1984 as Leisure Week and sold it to Centaur in 1990.
A year later he was back in action with the launch of A4 glossy magazine
Management Week. It folded in 1992 amid writs and financial problems and
was relaunched as Business Age. It was sold to VNU in 1995 for around
pounds 3 million.
Eccentric, colourful, energetic, entrepreneurial - all these words are
used by those who know or have worked for the 40 year-old bachelor. He
comes across as a bundle of energy, with the restlessness of a man who
has downed too many cups of coffee. Despite his determination and
energy, Rubython has a slightly introverted air which sets him apart
from the more flamboyant editors of recent national newspaper history.
He is driven by work and has an evangelical zeal when selling his latest
idea, be it to journalists or the City. Work and his private life are
indistinguishable - his neighbours recently complained that he was using
his mews flat near Baker Street as an office with meetings being held at
Far from being a man with an idea who hands over the reins to colleagues
once a project is off the ground, Rubython has always controlled the
editorial in his magazines. In his quest for the inside story Rubython
has been accused by both staff and companies of never letting the truth
interfere with a good story. However, one of his claims to fame is that
he has never lost in court.
Rubython has made it clear that the feel of Sunday Business’ editorial
will, like Business Age, be ‘racy’ but there are already indications
that he may be learning how to step back from the editorial front line.
Indeed, he instructed his PR company MacLaurin Communication and Media
(MCM) to play down his personality when promoting the newspaper.
It is easier said than done. His reputation follows him and has made
some wary of dealing with him again and sceptical about how long the
paper can survive. Plans to float the newspaper on the Alternative
Investment Market were dropped in February due to opposition from
potential City investors. Even as Rubython was trying to secure printers
for the first issue, rumours were circulating that both Mirror Group and
the Al Fayed brothers had been holding talks about buying the paper.
‘I’ve known Tom for about five years. Even if I had a punch up over fees
I think I would still end up liking the guy. He has a very colourful
attitude to the world,’ says MCM boss Brian MacLaurin.
It will take more than a colourful attitude to keep Sunday Business
going. But then, Rubython seems to find the words ‘it can’t be done’ the
greatest spur of all.
1981 Launches Marketeer magazine
1984 Launches Amusement Business (later Leisure Week)
1991 Launches Management Week (re-launched as Business Age in 1992)
1995 Sells Business Age to VNU
1996 Launches Sunday Business