February's client case study: Essentials Mag Limited

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As the saying goes – hard work pays off, and for one Wrexham based publisher this is certainly the case.

Within only two years, Victoria Heathfield, owner and director of Essentials Mag Limited, has doubled the size of her business, growing from two magazines with a circulation of 6,500, to three magazines and a circulation of 13,600.

Established in 2005 Essentials Mag is an independent publishing/advertising company, producing local lifestyle magazines which are delivered by hand to homes and businesses in and around Wrexham.

Victoria first worked as designer on the magazine, before purchasing the limited company in 2017.

“Essentials Mag is delivered free across the region, with quality content on localised news, views and issues of interest to everyone,” said Victoria, who has worked in marketing and design for over 25 years.

“Every edition is packed with original writing, featuring topical and relevant articles covering a wide range of subjects, from financial advice and local history, to nature and wildlife, and essential community news.”

The team is a large one including Victoria’s husband, Justin Heathfield, 60 distributors and a large number of contributors, or ‘experts’ as Victoria calls them, who write articles for the magazine.

“Our expertsare made-up of individuals and business people sharing advice in their given field, local groups and organisations, councillors, and the MP of Wrexham, Ian Lucas; plus, the amazing Sally Anglesea our food critic, who reviews the local restaurants,” said Victoria.

Before Essentials Mag, Victoria ran a sole-trader business for 13 years specialising in graphic design and portrait photography; it was during this time Victoria met Ellis & Co’s senior accountant John Farrell.

“People do business with people,” said Victoria.

“After meeting John at a networking event, I decided to switch accountants as I liked what he had to say.”

It was three years later that Victoria gained ‘invaluable advice’ from the team when looking at purchasing Essentials Mag Limited.

“Ellis & Co were integral to our acquisition of Essentials Mag,” said Victoria.

“They looked into the business I was buying and made suggestions and gave invaluable advice.

“We felt confident with our decisions based on their guidance, they also liaised well with our legal team,” she added.

Victoria’s work schedule now runs on a four week cycle, starting with booking in advertisers and designing adverts, to working on the magazine layout and chasing contributors.

Then with a deadline looming the pace quickens to ensure the magazine is completed and away to the printers on time.

“I have a few days at the end of the month when I can take a breather before the magazines need to be delivered to the distributors, shops and business; then it all starts again!,” said Victoria.

Essentials Mag is, as Victoria describes, an ‘integral part of the community’, promoting local events for clubs, charities, churches and NFP organisations all free of charge.

“Our magazines are very well respected in all the areas they serve,” said Victoria.

“Our local reportage mean that our readers trust us and that means they trust our advertisers too.

“Therefore, most of our advertisers do well from advertising in our magazines, and supporting local businesses in this way I find very rewarding.”

Victoria has no plans of taking her foot off the pedal, and over the next 12 months will be working hard to sustain the magazines impressive growth.

“At the end of 2018 we introduced leaflet distribution as part of our service to customers, so our focus this year will be on establishing ourselves in this market,” said Victoria.

“We are also going to introduce website design and hosting in the form of monthly subscription packages.

“This will be aimed at small companies and start-ups who need a website but can’t afford the large initial outlay of getting one professional produced.”

For Victoria the most challenging aspect of running her business is the expectations of today’s society, and never really being able to ‘switch off’.

“With social media and smart phones, just like many other businesses, you are in constant contact if someone wants to get hold of you – be it advertisers or readers,” said Victoria.

“I try to have a policy to not answer the phone after 5pm, or at weekends, and I limit my business social media responses after office hours.

“But this can be difficult as our society expects immediate response and customer service.”

Since the acquisition, the team at Ellis & Co have continued to support Victoria on her business journey.

“We have had to learn new accounting processes as Essentials Mag is a limited company and VAT registered, which was all new,” said Victoria.

“The team has offered us training and support to make sure we were doing everything correctly.

“I would recommend Ellis & Co to any other business, without hesitation!”

For further information about Essentials Mag Limited click here.