AIM bought consumer publications Old House Journal and New Old House from Restore Media in 2007. Those two brands, as well as Restore’s two professional titles, Period Homes and Traditional Building, are involved in the current deal.
The arrangement, negotiated over the past six months and involving the print, digital and tradeshow properties, puts the companies on "a specific path to an acquisition," according to Andy Clurman, president of AIM.
The brands will remain financially and editorially independent of one another for the time being, but will work together on sales and marketing in an effort to "build and rebuild the business in an improving housing market," he says. Depending on the success of the relationship, AIM may choose to acquire Restore Media at some point during the next three years. A price has not yet been determined.
Peter Miller, president of Restore Media, will manage the new group and will report to Clurman.
In a separate but parallel agreement, AIM is taking a minority stake in REX, a yet-to-be-launched e-commerce website developed by Restore. The actual stake is less than 30 percent, according to Clurman.
"We have an interest in launching e-commerce platforms in all of the verticals we’re in," he says, referring to AIM’s Equine, Healthy Living, Marine and Outdoor portfolios, in addition to the Home Buyer Group. "This was a good way for us to launch one in what looks like a potentially really good market, but dealing with partners where we’re not funding the entire launch."
The nature of the historic and period product market means the REX site will be aimed at a unique segment of specialty buyers, rather than specifically at professionals or consumers.
"It’s not a hard-and-fast channel business," Clurman says. "Some people buy direct and some buy through designers or architects."
While Restore’s business ties offer a solid customer base, AIM’s consumer relationships will double their reach in the e-commerce effort.