Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Greensboro publisher takes over Creative Loafing

For the second time in three years, Charlotte’s most prominent alternative weekly has been sold.

Creative Loafing, launched in 1987 and aimed at a young adult audience, was acquired from SouthComm Inc. by Womack Newspapers, which owns Greensboro’s alternative weekly, Yes! Weekly, and other weekly newspapers in North Carolina.

Terms of the sale, which is expected to close this week, were not disclosed. Charles Womack, who launched Yes! Weekly in 2005, said Tuesday he plans to take over as publisher of Creative Loafing on Sept. 1. 

“An apartment there is included in the deal,” said Womack, 49. “I bought my Panther PSLs about six months ago.”

Creative Loading distributes about 47,000 papers weekly. Womack’s Greensboro weekly, Yes!, distributes about 43,000 in the Triad.

Chris Sexson, who joined Creative Loafing as publisher about six months ago, will remain with SouthComm Inc., which will continue to own Creative Loafing papers in Atlanta and Tampa. 

Womack said he plans no other changes in the staff, led by editor Kimberly Lawson and sales manager Amy Mularski.  “My philosophy is to hire good people and get out of the way,” said Womack, whose father published a chain of community newspapers based in Virginia.

Womack operates Womack Newspapers Inc. that publishes Yes!, the Jamestown News, and the Outer Banks Sentinel in Nags Head and is a subsidiary of Womack Publishing Co. of Danville, Va.

Womack said he has long been interested in acquiring Creative Loafing because of its size and because of Charlotte’s growing music and entertainment scene.

SouthComm, based in Nashville, Tenn., bought Creative Loafing in October 2011 and added it to its portfolio of alternative weeklies that included Nashville Scene, The Pitch of Kansas City and LEO Weekly of Louisville, Ky.

SouthComm also launched a Charlotte society magazine NFocus, which folded last summer after 13 issues. SouthComm bought Creative Loafing from the private equity company Atalaya Capital Management LP, which took over when the paper’s parent company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008.