Delia magazine sale dishes up £5m profit

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The Independent Online

Delia Smith, the celebrity cook, has pocketed more than £5m after selling her magazine publishing business.

Ms Smith, who famously taught Britons how to boil an egg, founded New Crane in 1993 after approaching J Sainsbury with a proposal to start a magazine for the supermarket.

New Crane continues to publish the Sainsbury magazine, a monthly with a circulation of about 300,000 copies. The company has been run by Ms Smith's husband, Michael Wynn Jones; the couple were majority owners. Other revenue includes projects for WH Smith, such as Delia's Complete Christmas, which was available in the retail chain at the end of last year.

New Crane was bought yesterday by Seven Publishing, a company chaired by Michael Potter, the founder of Redwood Publishing, the contract magazine business now owned by the media group Omnicom.

Seven did not disclose the value of the New Crane deal but said that it and another recent acquisition, Cottage Publishing, were together worth up to £13.6m. The New Crane purchase made up the majority of that figure.

Ms Smith will continue to act as a consultant to the Sainsbury magazine and other projects - the Sainsbury contract will be retained by the new owners. She will continue to pursue other interests, which include a directorship at Norwich City football club. Ms Smith is reckoned to be worth about £22m.

She said: "Michael and I have had 12 happy years heading up a very happy company. Now, as they say in football, it's time for 'fresh legs'. We are very excited that these have come in the shape of Seven Publishing: in our opinion, the best collective talent in publishing today."

With the latest deal, Seven has 30 titles, including a food title, Delicious, and a leisure magazine, Gardenlife.

Mr Potter, who started Seven with two other industry veterans, said: "In little over a year since we began we have already launched two great titles and acquired two great publishing companies."

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