Express snaps up photograph library

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EXPRESS Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Express and Sunday Express, is branching out into photograph libraries, buying the Visual Communications Group for pounds 27m, writes Heather Connon.

The company is one of the leading picture libraries with 40,000 customers in 30 countries. Its pre-tax profit last year was pounds 2.3m, on sales of pounds 10m, and it had net assets of pounds 2.1m.

Express, part of United Newspapers, intends to keep Visual Communications as a separate business and will not add its own extensive library.

Andrew Cameron, Express managing director, said the papers' photo library was being transferred to optical disc with a view to commercial exploitation. 'There is therefore considerable potential synergy between the two businesses.'

Visual Communications' main market is in advertising, which accounts for 61 per cent of its sales. A further 12 per cent goes to newspapers and 5 per cent to corporate customers for annual reports.

It adds about 25,000 images a year, through commissioning and marketing photographers' work, and publishes details of the images available.