Express & Star

End of an era as Midland News Association is sold to National World

National World, one of the UK’s leading media organisations, has completed the purchase of the Midland News Association, publishers of the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.

Tom Graham.

National World, whose titles include The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, announced the acquisition from the Claverley Group.

In a statement, the company said: “National World today announces the acquisition of two of the UK's most prestigious daily titles, The Express & Star and the Shropshire Star.”

The statement continued: “Many of National World's innovations, particularly in video, events and community media, will benefit the newly acquired titles and accelerate the development of a sustainable business model. We welcome our new colleagues, who have nurtured all the brands in The Express and Star parent company, Midland News Association Ltd, to the National World family.

“Through its City World brands and Insider Media, National World already has a strong presence in the region and as a result of this acquisition it is expected that the National World portfolio in the region will average 20 million page views per month, making it one of the leading news publishers in the UK’s second largest media market outside London.”

In addition to the Express & Star and Shropshire Star, titles published by the MNA include a range of paid and free weekly newspapers covering the Black Country, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Mid Wales, plus farming and lifestyle magazines.

“As part of the deal, National World has also acquired Press Computer Systems Limited (PCS). PCS provides software-as-a-service technology solutions to publishers, enabling closer collaboration across editorial, advertising, and production processes,” the statement added. “It is widely used in the local news publishing industry and will support National World’s transition into a fully digitised publishing operation.”

Phil Inman, chief executive of Claverley Group, said: “The Midland News Association, including iconic Express & Star and Shropshire Star brands, has been owned and managed by the Graham family for generations. Agreeing to sell was an extremely difficult decision for the shareholders, but after careful consideration, the shareholders concluded that a larger media organisation was better placed to secure the future of the business.

“The sale of the MNA will result in Claverley Group exiting from regional newspaper publishing and as such, the sale of PCS was a logical extension to the deal for both parties.

“Claverley Group will continue to diversify its business interests and is actively looking to add further acquisitions to the five businesses bought since 2018.”

National World chairman, David Montgomery, said: “These historic and premium brands will strengthen our footprint, improving our Midlands and national rankings in UK media. Our innovations in TV and video, specialist content and our move to greater automation, will enhance the future performance of these new additions to the group.

“The greater scale will help underpin our accelerating transition to a multi-platform content business, focused on creative talent. We continue to re-train and re-equip both editorial and commercial staff to serve all platforms - print, online, TV and video, events, business information and e-commerce.’’

The sale of the MNA to National World signals the end of the Graham family’s long-standing involvement in the Express & Star. The title traces its roots back to the late 19th century when businessman Thomas Graham and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie bought the Wolverhampton Evening Star newspaper and later took over rival the Evening Express to form the Express & Star. The Graham family have owned the Express & Star ever since, becoming pioneers in the regional publishing world and launching sister daily, the Shropshire Star, in 1964.

Claverley director Tom Graham added: “Selling our flagship regional news assets was an extremely difficult decision for the shareholders, given our family’s long-standing ownership over several generations. Our association with these brands has been a great source of pride to us. We wish the Midland News Association and Press Computer Systems, and all their staff, every success under the new ownership.”