Enthuse Group acquires controlling stake in AA Media

  • Acquisition of 51% stake in AA Media Ltd to create a joint venture partnership with the AA for its Hotels, Hospitality, Publishing and Merchandising businesses.
  • Enthuse Group turnover up 75% to £10.5m and EBITDA up 313% to £1.3m for the year ended 31 December 2018, fueled by international expansion. 
  • Group focus is to nurture trusted consumer media brands and grow their communities.

Enthuse Group, the specialist international publishing and media group, today announces record profits for the 2018 financial year and the acquisition of a 51% stake in AA Media Ltd, the operator of the AA’s Hotels, Hospitality, Publishing and Merchandising businesses.

Enthuse Group owns a diverse portfolio of magazines, events and online communities acquired through a buy-and-build strategy. The Enthuse brands today serve thirty major enthusiast communities principally in the UK and the US.

Under the terms of the agreement, Enthuse will acquire 51% of AA Media Ltd and the balance will be held by AA plc.  AA Media will continue to use the AA brand as defined under a brand licensing agreement.

Enthuse Group will work with the AA to grow the business, leveraging existing partnerships.  It will digitise its range of products and services and simplify processes utilising Enthuse’s shared services platform.

Announcing the acquisition and 2018 results, Owen Davies, CEO of Enthuse Group, said: “It has been a great year for the Group and we are pleased to announce our new joint venture with AA plc. AA Media is a fantastic business with a beloved and trusted brand. We are delighted to welcome the AA Media team to Enthuse and we look forward to accelerating the opportunities to digitize and expand the business.”

“2018 was a transitional year for the Group and today’s joint venture partnership continues the momentum.  We have increased our range of titles and our geographical footprint and the new joint venture gives us a significant position in the important hospitality and travel sector.”

Turnover for Enthuse Group in the year ended 31 December 2018 was up 75% and EBITDA was up 313%.  Last year the Group added to its portfolio with three acquisitions. It expanded its presence in the Fishing and Woodworking hobby communities and in Home Technology.  Turnover was boosted significantly by the acquisition of a US home technology magazine and website portfolio from TEN, a GoldenTree owned company.

With an array of titles supporting crafts, the audiophile market, the angling community and more, Enthuse Group is building an international stable of media brands built around loyal and engaged communities.  Today, Enthuse Group has a stable of 30 titles.  The business is built around serving long-term passions rather than fleeting interests.  The longest-running magazine, Model Engineer, was first published in 1898 and has been published fortnightly since. The business runs events, e-commerce sites and readership offers designed to build loyalty.  The majority of title editors are enthusiasts themselves.

The Group’s decentralised model empowers enthusiast content creators to shape each brand’s direction.

The Group operates a scalable platform for each business unit to grow their communities through digital media, e-commerce, membership and events.  In the financial year, twenty-three percent of Group revenue came from stable recurring subscriptions, with twenty-four percent coming from non-print, mainly driven by digital advertising, e-commerce and events. As a result of the new joint venture, subscription revenue will be a significantly higher share of Group revenue.

International expansion also offers a significant opportunity for future growth.  “The US market has huge potential for us,” added Davies.  “Twenty-eight percent of our turnover in the last year came from international markets, mainly in the US, and we see further exciting opportunities internationally.”

Davies and his team are ambitious for the future. “Changes in media dynamics and business models are creating exciting opportunities for us. Our platform is highly scalable, and our experienced team understand how to nurture trusted consumer media brands and grow their communities.”

About Enthuse Group

Enthuse Group (https://enthusegroup.com/) is a specialist international publishing and media group with a diverse portfolio of magazines, events and online communities acquired through a buy-and-build strategy.  Its portfolio of brands today serve more than thirty major enthusiast communities, principally in the UK and the US.  Enthuse Group owns media brands that are trusted within their communities.  Titles include Hi-Fi News, Stereophile, Total Carp, The Woodworker, Stamp Magazine and  Patchwork and Quilting amongst others.


About AA Media

Hotels and Hospitality 

The Hotels and Hospitality business is a highly regarded authority on the inspection and rating of accommodation providers and restaurants across Britain.  The business traces its history as far back as 1908 and is the UK’s only pan-Britain accommodation assessment business and inspects properties under a set of standards shared with three national tourist boards.  In April 2017, the business was granted a three-year contract to run Visit England’s quality assessment scheme.

Publishing and Merchandising 

The Publishing business produces atlases, maps and travel guides for top British and International destinations as well as travel writing covering the niche of British travel which are sold through online platforms such as Amazon and a number of national retailers.  The Merchandising business distributes a range of branded car and road accessories through online channels and physical retailers such as Halfords and Argos.  The business operates a physical store at the Eurotunnel terminal at Folkestone which sells AA merchandise and also receives royalty income in respect of a small number of AA branded products that are manufactured and sold by third parties, such as forecourt operators.