General

Published: January 21, 2022 | Updated: January 22, 2022

Growing publishing group founded 16 months ago purchases “much-loved community paper”

The Purbeck Gazette and its new ‘sister’ titles with (inset) Lloyd Armishaw, Director, The Blackmore Vale Ltd.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

An expanding publishing group has purchased the monthly The Purbeck Gazette for an undisclosed sum with plans to turn it fortnightly from March.

The Blackmore Vale Ltd, publishers of the New Blackmore Vale Magazine and the New Stour & Avon Magazine, completed the deal on January 17.

Published by Purbeck Media Ltd, The Purbeck Gazette covers the Isle of Purbeck with 20,000 copies distributed every month.

Owner and Editor Nico Johnson will remain with the title as an editorial contributor but is seeking a full-time position elsewhere.

Lloyd Armishaw, pictured left, Director of The Blackmore Vale Ltd, said: “We are really excited about bringing The Purbeck Gazette title under the umbrella of our flourishing publishing business.

“The New Blackmore Vale and the New Stour & Avon have gone from strength to strength under our leadership.

“We very much look forward to working closely with the Purbeck community as we continue to publish their much-loved community paper.”

His son, and fellow Director, David Armishaw added: “The Purbeck Gazette was conceived and started by the Purbeck community over two decades ago and has a solid reputation for quality editorial and ethical publishing standards.

“We will continue running the paper under the same ethos and are delighted that the highly popular editorial contributors will be staying on-board, writing for an expanding audience who remain eager for quality publishing in their local area.”

The Purbeck Gazette was established in 1998 by the community after the closure of the Purbeck Independent.

The original owner sold the title to Tindle Newspapers in 2004.

Six years later Nico Johnson, pictured right, who joined the publication in 2001, initially as a part-time journalist and then sub-editor before becoming Editor-in-Chief, took ownership.

She said: “Having worked at The Purbeck Gazette for over 20 years, and having owned the title for over a decade, I am thrilled that Lloyd and David Armishaw have now taken the title under their wing.

“Lloyd and David truly understand the importance of community newspapers and I am excited to have been able to facilitate the addition of the Purbeck Gazette title to their blossoming publishing business.

“I wish them and their exceptional team every success for the future.

“I have no doubt that the title is in safe hands for many decades to come.”

The last issue – number 265 – under Nico’s ownership datelined February 2022 has 40 pages.

Lloyd, 67, said the intention was to increase the number of pages to the same as the New Stour & Avon Magazine – 64 – and publish fortnightly from the middle of March.

The Wiltshire businessman, a Director of five removal and self-storage companies, was a newcomer to publishing when he decided to finance the launch of The New Blackmore Vale Magazine in September 2020.

It followed a decision by Reach plc to cease publication of the original Blackmore Vale Magazine – affectionally known as the ‘BVM’ and once regarded by many as the local ‘bible’ for North Dorset.

The success of the venture resulted in the launch of sister publication, The New Stour & Avon Magazine, in April last year.

The title had been closed by Reach plc in December 2018.

The fortnightly publications appear on alternate weeks.

Up to 40,000 copies of The New Blackmore Vale Magazine are printed and a further 30,000 copies of The New Stour & Avon Magazine.

Following the addition of The Purbeck Gazette, the combined group says it will have over 360,000 readers a month along with a further 40,000 web visitors.

It is currently seeking an Editor for The New Blackmore Vale Magazine and also a Managing Editor for the group.

Further acquisitions could also be on the cards.

Lloyd told Dorset Biz News: “We are in discussions with another party in Dorset at the moment and further afield.”

He confirmed long-term ambitions included the possibility of either acquiring, or launching, titles in Wiltshire, Somerset and Devon.

Regarding the launch of a new title in West Dorset – The West Dorset Magazine – by two former members of staff next month, Lloyd said: “Bridport, Dorchester and Weymouth is an area on our list we would like to move into.

“It will be interesting to see how other publications get on.”