Lebhar-Friedman, the 93 year-old, family-owned publisher serving the retail industry, has been acquired by Chicago-based EnsembleIQ, the latter announced this week.
The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, includes a trio of trade magazines—the monthly Drug Store News, the bimonthly Convenience Store Age, and the 10x frequency Hardware + Building Supply Dealer—as well as the SPECS Show, a 55-year-old annual conference serving the brick-and-mortar retail space.
It’s the second significant acquisition for private equity-backed EnsembleIQ—which was formed in early 2016 out of the mergers of Edgell Communications, Stagnito Business Information, and the Path to Purchase Institute—and the first since former Lightspeed Research executive David Shanker was named CEO in February.
Complementing the company’s existing portfolio—Convenience Store News and Progressive Grocer, among 15 others—the acquisition leaves EnsembleIQ in a dominant position in the North American grocery, CPG, and in-store marketing spaces.
In a statement, Shanker added that Lebhar-Friedman’s “iconic brands” will provide EnsembleIQ’s readers and clients “a comprehensive view of retail insights and information throughout the United States and Canada.”
Each of the three Lebhar-Friedman titles carries a controlled circulation of between 25,000 and 35,000 subscribers, while the three-day SPECS Show attracts about 1,000 attendees each year.
Despite transitioning control from the Friedman family for the first time since the company’s founding in 1925, much of Lebhar-Friedman’s existing leadership will remain in place, according to EnsembleIQ.
John Kenlon, publisher of HBS Dealer and CRO at Lebhar-Friedman, will continue to lead the acquired titles under the EnsembleIQ umbrella, alongside Chain Store Age group publisher Gary Esposito, Drug Store News publisher Eric Savitch, and Drug Store News editor-in-chief Seth Mendelson, all of whom will be retained by EnsembleIQ.
Randall Friedman, grandson of company founder Arnold Friedman and president and CEO of Lebhar-Friedman since 2014, will stay on in an advisory role during the transition, while his father, chairman Roger Friedman, “will devote his time to new ventures,” according to an announcement.
“The company that my grandfather Arnold founded and my father Roger ran for many years has always been focused on the retail industry,” said Randall Friedman in a statement. “The fact that EIQ also has great brands and deep expertise in retail makes me very optimistic that the LF roots will continue to grow and bear fruit in the years to come under EIQ’s stewardship.”
New York-based M&A firm Berkery Noyes served as financial advisor to Lebhar-Friedman during the sale process.