As you might guess from the above, some of the group’s newspapers are considerably older than the group itself. Barham Pratt Boorman had already started some newspapers in Ashford by the time he bought the Kent Messenger from its gaoled owners, the Masters brothers, in 1890. His son Henry Roy Pratt Boorman took over in the late 1920s and substantially increased the use of photography in the family’s newspapers, recognising that the possibility of seeing local landmarks and people was a powerful incentive to buy them.
Kent Messenger Limited was incorporated in 1952. Roy Boorman remained Chairman until 1986, when he became President and was succeeded as Chairman by his son Edwin (who had become Managing Director in 1962). Meanwhile the group’s newspaper holdings had grown markedly, with a series of acquisitions in the 1970s and early 1980s. Under Edwin’s management the group expanded further into local radio and, with the advent of the World Wide Web, websites.
Edwin’s daughter, Geraldine Allinson, took over as Chairman in 2005 (and, incidentally, served as President of the Newspaper Society for the July 2011-June 2012 term). The company was rebranded as the KM Group in 2008, although the active company registered at Companies House is still Kent Messenger Limited.
In 2011 Northcliffe Media agreed to sell nine of its Kent-based newspapers to the KM Group. However, the KM Group referred the deal to the Office of Fair Trading, who in turn referred the deal to the Competition Commission because of the possibly excessive concentration of media in one company’s hands. As a result, the deal was scrapped because the delay would have pushed up the costs of the deal. At least two of the papers involved have since been closed, including the Sittingbourne-based East Kent Gazette in December 2011.
The KM Group thereupon launched a second paid-for title for the area, their first new paid-for newspaper since 2003: the Sittingbourne News Extra.
- KM Group
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