Dirt, Total Women’s Cycling, RideUK owners file for Voluntary Liquidation

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Reported by Bikebiz, news has broken over the weekend of the voluntary liquidation of Factory Media Ltd, owners of multiple sports media brands including Total women’s Cycling, Dirt, RCUK and RideUK.

Accountants, Chamberlain & Co, have been appointed to oversee the liquidation.

While the Factory Media company itself was sold to Forward Internet Holdings in 2012 and more recently acquired by Square Up Media Group, it continued to operate as a separate company.

The accounts for Factory Media have painted a picture of a company struggling to survive for the last few years with auditors Ernst & Young LLP posting notes to the companies accounts as long ago as 2015 of their concern over the viability of the company. The official auditors line on the accounts states, “The audit report states that there is uncertainty concerning the company being a ‘going concern'”

Factory media shed most of their print titles in a legendary paper cull several years ago, leaving the principal business model to be based on sponsorship and advertising revenues. Traditional digital advertising revenues have fallen dramatically over the last 18 months with a particularly large drop being instigated at the introduction of the new EU GDPR privacy regulations in May 2018.

The last filed accounts of Factory Media list an asset value of £14.5 million but a liabilities of £16.5 million (Accounts filed April 2017)

Records also show that an investment company, FCFM Group Limited registered a charge on the company as recently as 2nd August 2018.

What does this mean for the media brands?

Propping up the editorial team at Dirt for almost 2 decades, Steve Jones recently left Factory Media to work on the new eBike Youtube channel eMBN. Similarly, Total Womens’ Cycling editor, Jessica Strange last month announced she was joining the team at Youtube based MTB channel, GMBN.

The following is speculation based on the company information available. It’s important to note that this information is over a year old based on the information filed at Companies House. Clearly much has happened since then.

A voluntary liquidation means the directors have voluntarily decided to bring the company to an end rather than being ‘forced’ to do so by creditors. Judging by the picture painted by the last filed accounts (albeit over a year old) it is likely there are not enough assets in the business to pay off all the creditors and so it is possible that the intention is to now sell off the brands either as a package to a single media company or as individual titles. With very few residual reader based revenue streams it’s likely the main selling point for each brand will be it’s total audience reach (Dirt’s Facebook page has 935k followers). With much of Factory Media’s reach being based on social media platforms, it will be the value attributed to this audience that will possibly form the basis of any sales.

At the time of publication the Dirt social media channels remain active.

In any event we wish the best for all the employees and other contributors who are facing an uncertain future.

 

 

Comments (8)

  1. my-oh-my…

    Always anxious whilst reading such news… Is Singletrack on the same path? If so how far down the way?

    Cheers!
    I.

  2. We are still printing paper and are still here. It’s very tough for all media right now. Tougher than I’ve ever known it, but at least we don’t have £16million in liabilities…

    yet..

    🙂

  3. Yet…

    Good Lord… I will keep my sub. I guess every penny counts…

    Cheers!
    I.

  4. It does and we appreciate your support 🙂

  5. I worked with Jim Peskett at Arcwind for years before he set off to start Permanent Publishing (White Lines, Sidewalk, Surfers Path) he then sold them to Factory and became a boss there. I think the decision to go pure digital hurt them as they lost a lot of ad revenue. Look at Windsurf vs Boards. Windsurf still prints and has survived, the digital only ad thing doesn’t work unless you’re Pinkbike with just under 6,000,000 hits a day.

  6. What do you mean by ‘hits’?

  7. I do miss Dirt in a paper version. Sad times.

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