In a Surprise Move, TNG Acquires Ingram Periodicals
“At least it isn’t another bankruptcy,” a contact at a key retailer said to me. “There will be some order, some sequence and continuity to the whole transition.” He was speaking, of course, of the acquisition of Ingram Periodicals by TNG, formerly the News Group, earlier this week, a move that came as a surprise to many in the industry.
TNG is North America’s largest supplier of magazines to retail. Ingram Periodicals has long worked to distribute publications into bookstores and specialty outlets.
Having been hammered over the past decade or two by the bankruptcies of many of the key players — wholesalers, retailers, and national distributors, our industry is understandably relieved to anticipate some process in the shift of the business, an orderly transfer of accounts, billings, reporting, and order regulation. “TNG and Ingram are committed to ensuring a smooth transition…during this time, delivery will continue through Ingram’s current distribution centers in California, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania, while TNG begins the transition of the invoicing/accounting functions.”
This move, while unexpected by many, wasn’t a complete surprise to all. “I got a call the day before the announcement from a major business magazine, asking what percentage of the business Ingram represented,” a newsstand consultant told me. “So somebody somewhere had heard something.”
“It wasn’t a total surprise,” an executive at a national distributor said. “Not that we knew the details, but TNG’s strategy has always been acquisition, and this move makes sense from an operational standpoint.”
A major retailer confirmed the logic of the move in terms of operations. “Ingram Periodicals has great customer service, great publisher reps, great information systems, but TNG has the trucks and the merchandisers. You can time truck deliveries in a way you can’t time UPS arrivals, and you can plan around those arrival dates.”
But some publishers are worried about the consequences to them. “TNG is huge, and we’re little,” an independent publisher said. “Ingram was a solution for us, in that they were able to get us into our target market and to do it affordably. If TNG loses sight of the little guys, or starts to increase the costs, it could put a lot of us out of business. With Ingram, no matter what happened at the macro level, there was always a place for us. Now with this acquisition, will that still be the case?”
At the same time, there is the possibility that independent and directs-only publishers might discover opportunities through TNG and TNG Specialty that weren’t previously available to them. TNG Specialty distributes to many targeted outlets that could be valuable to special-interest publications that currently have an Ingram-only distribution base.
Linda Ruth, as president of PSCS Consulting (www.PSCSConsulting.com), offers communication companies worldwide the keys to magazine launches, search engine optimization and audience development online and at retail. She is a pioneer in the fields of Online Audience Optimization (OAO) and gamification for content publishers. Her books, "Internet Marketing for Magazine Publishers" ; "How to Market your Newsstand Magazine"; and "Secrets of SEO for Publishers" can be found on Amazon. Find her online at Google Plus, Magazine Dojo, LinkedIn, and Twitter @Linda_Ruth.