Financial News

  • 18 February 2014, 5:55

'Frisky Over-50' Makeover For Reader's Digest

Reader's Digest is set to be overhauled for the "frisky over-50s" by the man behind children's TV show Bob The Builder.

Media tycoon Mike Luckwell bought the staid publication, once found in doctors' waiting rooms and grandmothers' homes, for 1.

He purchased the title from previous owner Better Capital.

The private equity firm bought Reader's Digest out of administration for 14m in 2010 and ploughed millions more into the brand.

However, it collapsed into a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in 2013 after further declines in CD and book sales.

The CVA saw its 125 staffing level slashed to 30, as it refocused on magazine production. It maintains a valuable subscriber database.

Reader's Digest has nearly 250,000 subscribers and also operates lucrative prize draws.

Mr Luckwell was the director of the media company that created the hit children's programme, which has been broadcast in more than 250 territories and 45 languages.

Bob The Builder was created in 1999 by Keith Chapman from HIT Entertainments - and its music even reached number one in the UK pop charts twice.

Venture capitalist Mr Luckwell had a previous windfall after investing in Carlton Communications and advertising agency WPP.

He is estimated to have a private worth of 135m, and reportedly made 33m from his stake in HIT.

It is understood Mr Luckwell wants to expand the Reader's Digest UK brand into the mature-age finance area dominated by the Saga group.

The sector continues to grow and now accounts for more than a third of the population, with many older people far more actively engaged in entertainment, travel and active finance matters - coining the "frisky over-50s" tag.

"Saga is a gigantic company and I wouldn't mind a few of their crumbs," Mr Luckwell said.

"The publication of Reader's Digest will continue without interruption and its high editorial standards will be maintained."

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