Thomas Crosbie Holdings Limited - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Thomas Crosbie Holdings Limited

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Company Perspectives

Characterised by innovation, creativity and exceptional service levels, TCH offers advertisers unique communication solutions across our growing portfolio of media brands. Recognising the dynamic nature of the media landscape we are absolutely committed to developing our own brands as well as those brands which we serve. While recognising fully that each of our media brands is unique in terms of the audience they serve we believe strongly that there are greater synergies to be explored to the benefit of our clients. Put simply, through ensuring that we have a detailed understanding of our clients brand, marketing and communication strategies we can, when appropriate, bring these synergies to bear in a very positive way.

History of Thomas Crosbie Holdings Limited

Thomas Crosbie Holdings Limited (TCH) is one of Ireland's leading newspaper groups. Based in Cork, it publishes a number of regional and national titles. TCH also has investments in radio and Internet ventures. The group's flagship, the Irish Examiner, claims the title of Ireland's oldest daily newspaper; it was launched in 1841 as the Cork Examiner. The Crosbie family, which owns TCH, first became involved with the Examiner a year after it was formed. Thomas Crosbie and generations of his descendants have served as editor of the Examiner as well as head of the holding company. The family ultimately placed day-to-day management of the business in the hands of outsiders, however.

Beginnings in Cork: 1841

The story of the Irish Examiner and the rest of the Thomas Crosbie empire begins in the 19th century, when John Francis Maguire began publishing a thrice-weekly evening newspaper called the Cork Examiner. The first issue was dated August 30, 1841. It became a morning paper, printed six days a week, in 1858.

At the time of the Examiner's launch, local news was said to be dominated by the Cork Constitution, which catered to Anglo-Irish landowners. The new paper set out to be the voice of the common people. Maguire later represented local districts in the House of Commons.

While the Examiner was initially focused on the local community, its location near one of the first ports of call for transatlantic ships gave it an advantage over European papers in gaining eagerly sought news from abroad. After the arrival of the telegraph, the Examiner set up a branch in London.

The paper's location gave it a unique perspective on one major historical event. An Examiner photographer, Tom Barker, was the last to take pictures on the deck of the Titanic before its final voyage in 1912.

Thomas Crosbie became the paper's owner after the death of John F. Maguire in 1872. He had started working for the Examiner in 1842 at the age of 15 and had progressed up the ranks to editor.

Thomas Crosbie died in 1899, leaving business to his son George. By this time, the firm was known as Thomas Crosbie and Co. Limited. Like his father, George Crosbie was also involved in public office, serving as a Fine Gael senator in the 1930s.

By the mid-1990s, Thomas Crosbie Holdings Limited (TCH) had grown larger than Ireland's other family-owned provincial newspapers. In 1994, TCH's Examiner Publications unit had revenues of IEP 20 million. The holding company also had interests in property, forestry, and other investments. A buying spree to follow would cement its role as the largest media group based outside Dublin.

Launch of Buying Spree: 1995

The company had a new low-cost union agreement that helped keep the group afloat during a few perilous years for the industry, while allowing margins sufficient to finance a major acquisitions spree. Before the mid-1990s, TCH's publishing empire was limited to the Cork Examiner, Evening Echo, and the Waterford News & Star. The group would acquire 17 new provincial titles from 1995 to 2005. These publications had typically been run by the same family for generations.

Western People, a weekly newspaper in County Mayo, was acquired in 1995. It had been in the hands of the Devere family for roughly 90 years. The group had a circulation of 24,000 and, with its contract printing business, annual revenues of IEP 2 million. The business also had some radio holdings. A year later, the new subsidiary acquired the Sligo Weekender, a small, free paper.

The Cork Examiner was renamed simply the Examiner in 1996. TCH was by this time handling the printing for England's London Times in Ireland. During the year, TCH acquired 15 percent of a new youth-oriented FM station, Radio Ireland, with the aim of cross-selling print and radio ads. The company was also part of a group applying for a London radio license. However, it pulled out of the Radio Ireland group within a few months.

In the late 1990s, regional newspapers were reaping record margins. This fueled continued acquisition activity not just from TCH but from its rivals in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Kingdom Newspapers Ltd. and Kingdom Publications Ltd., publishers of Kerry's Kingdom newspaper, were bought by TCH in 1999.

Around this time, Anthony Dinan became TCH's managing director. He had joined the company in 1980; his family had been involved with the firm for four generations, noted Business & Finance. Dinan was acquiring minority holdings in the provincial papers TCH was buying. These stakes were all sold to TCH in 2005, reported the Irish Times.

New Name in 2000

Revenues were £37.8 million (EUR 48 million) in 2000, producing pre-tax income of a little less than £5 million (EUR 6.4 million). The Examiner was renamed the Irish Examiner in 2000. It had a reported circulation of about 55,000 to 60,000. Two weekly papers, the Down Democrat and its sister publication the Newry Democrat, were bought for £500,000 in 2000. This was TCH's first deal in Northern Ireland.

The next year, 2001, TCH acquired the aptly named Provincial Newspapers, which published the Nationalist & Leinster Times, the Kildare Nationalist, and the Laois Nationalist. Also during the year, Alan Crosbie traded his position at Examiner Publications for the chairmanship of the holding company TCH. He had drawn on his experience to write a book about passing down a family business through the generations.

TCH was an investor in RedFM, a Cork area radio station launched in January 2002 for a younger audience. It also had shares in North West Radio and MidWest Radio.

TCH acquired the Sunday Business Post from Trinity Mirror in April 2002. The price for the Dublin-based paper was EUR 10 million. The Business Post was TCH's 12th publication. It had been launched in 1989 and acquired by Times Mirror in 1997.

In 2003, TCH acquired the Irish Post from Jefferson Smurfit for £1.7 million (EUR 2.5 million). The company's first acquisition in Britain, the Post was a publication for Irish expatriates and had a circulation of about 31,000. It was established in 1970.

The early decades of the new millennium were difficult financially. However, after losing EUR 857,594 in 2002, the group posted pre-tax income of EUR 6.2 million in 2003 on revenues of EUR 76 million, up EUR 10 million from the previous year. In 2004, sales reached EUR 84 million as pre-tax profit rose nearly 50 percent to EUR 10 million. Most of this increase was from the sale of the Cork Examiner's headquarters building.

Big Changes in 2004

In 2004, TCH announced it was closing down its own printing operations after 153 years. A new company, Webprint Concepts Ltd., was being created to print TCH's papers at a new plant in nearby Mahon. It was also farming out ad sales on its web sites, which included topic-specific portals such as and pages associated with its newspapers.

In March 2004, TCH acquired the Rosecommon Herald, a Boyle paper dating back to 1859. It had previously been owned by the Nerney family. The Herald had estimated sales of EUR 2 million a year.

After more than a decade of consolidation among provincial newspapers in Ireland, TCH bought the last remaining independent in 2006 when it acquired the Echo Newspaper Group. This included the Wexford Echo and papers in Enniscorthy, New Ross, and Gorey with a combined circulation of more than 22,000.

It had been founded in 1902 and had previously been owned by Eamonn and Norman Buttle. The Echo Group acquisition lifted TCH's total circulation to nearly 80,000.

Another major change was the sale of TCH's offices in downtown Cork, its home for about 165 years, to a real estate developer. About 280 employees were being relocated from Academy Street to Cork's docklands in 2006. TCH was a partner in Cork 2005: European Capital of Culture. The company helped its hometown celebrate via some of its publications and online ventures.

Principal Subsidiaries

Examiner Publications (Cork) Ltd.; Mid West Radio (15%); Red FM (36%); TCH Recruit Ireland Limited.

Principal Operating Units

Irish Examiner; Sunday Business Post; Evening Echo; Western People; Kildare Nationalist; Laois Nationalist; Waterford News & Star; The Kingdom; Sligo Weekender; Newry Democrat; Down Democrat; Irish Post; Roscommon Herald; The Echo; The Gorey Echo; Wexford Echo; New Ross Echo;;; TCM.

Principal Competitors

Alpha Newspapers; Associated Newspapers Ltd.; Celtic Media Group Limited; Independent News & Media Plc.


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