Programme publisher John Good sold

Natalie Woolman

Theatre programme publisher John Good has been sold to a group of private investors after more than 20 years as a family business.

The group that has bought the company includes the managing director and finance director of John Good Ltd – Joanna Atherden and Andrew Williamson – although Atherden denied that the deal constituted a management buyout.

Both parties refused to reveal how much the deal, which includes London theatre programme printers Cantate, was worth. According to the accounts for the year ending September 30, 2010, John Good Ltd’s turnover was £9.9 million in 2009/10, down from £10.3 million the year before. However, pre-tax profits rose from £430,984 in 2008/2009 to £457,682 in 2009/10.

Atherden confirmed that no redundancies are planned and that John Good will remain the principal trading company of the group. She said: “Having been part of the industry for almost three decades, we are absolutely passionate and committed to theatre and the arts, and this ethos will not change. It is very much business as usual for John Good.

“Our new ownership brings a great opportunity for us to add value to our customers by expanding the range of services we offer across advertising, graphic design, printing, web and digital marketing, and to move into new markets.”

Caroline Good, who owned the company for 22 years and has acted as both managing director and then chairman, said she has offered her services on a consultancy basis to the team for the next year. However, she said the new owners have more than 50 years’ experience with the company between them so “I don’t think I am going to leave a huge hole”.

Speaking to The Stage, she added: “Running any business has its ups and downs – you don’t get the wine and roses moments without the blood, sweat and tears part as well. Certainly running John Good Ltd has given me both. But abidingly, it has been fun and if I was 40 years younger and had my time again, I would do it all again – but next time I would do it much better.”

In a message for the theatre industry, Good added she wanted to thank the companies that gave John Good “such loyal support over the 22 years for which it was in my ownership”.

She said: “Both through my many years as managing director and more recently as chairman of John Good Ltd, service to clients and finding a way to achieve the product you want at the right price has been at the heart of every decision I have made. It has been a joy to work with you all and I shall miss you hugely in retirement.”

The company was initially set up as John Good Advertising in 1985 to buy advertising space in theatre programmes and sell it on to businesses. In 1987, it gained its own design studio, and became a limited company in 1989. It has bases in Oxford and Coventry for its advertising and production businesses.

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