Make us your home page

Valpak too valuable for publisher Cox to keep

The direct mail industry is feeling the impact of the downturn in advertising, but compared to the newspaper business, it's doing great. That, in a nutshell, is the likely reason that Cox Enterprises Inc. put Valpak, its Pinellas County coupon distribution business, up for sale.

"Cox apparently was looking for assets to sell, and that's one they'd probably be able to get a pretty good price for," said newspaper industry analyst John Morton. His Maryland consulting firm has worked for Cox in the past, and he said he has visited Valpak's state-of-the-art printing facility in St. Petersburg.

"That increased efficiency considerably," he said. "It's a well-run outfit."

Cox, based in Atlanta and the owner of such newspapers as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is trying to raise money to pay down debt by selling Valpak and 11 newspapers in Texas, North Carolina and Colorado. It has separated the deals, hiring Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for Valpak and Citigroup to handle the newspapers. The company has not revealed an asking price.

Valpak's revenues are about $260-million a year, but as a private company, the details aren't disclosed. The company makes money by selling advertising directly in eight regions and by selling coupon printing and mailing services to its 200 franchisees who sell advertising in their communities. About 20-billion coupons will go out this year in 521-million blue Valpak envelopes.

"Everybody that draws money from advertising is faltering some, but it seems to have affected direct mail somewhat less than traditional media," Morton said. "It's a cheap way that advertisers can resort to."

Valassis Communications, a publicly held competitor to Valpak, reported that its direct mail revenues were relatively flat in the second quarter — increasing 0.4 percent — but profits rose 18 percent thanks to increased efficiency.

"All advertising businesses have been affected, but we're seeing a tremendous increase in consumer interest in coupons," said Deanna Willsey, Valpak's director of communications.

Bobby Adkins, who owns four Valpak franchises, said his business is up this year. "People are becoming more frugal," said Adkins, who lives in Austin, Texas. He said the coupons they get in Valpak envelopes offer consumers justification to spend money because they're saving at the same time.

Nationally, coupon redemptions stabilized last year after 14 years of decline and have continued to hold their own this year. Direct mailers like Valpak account for about 2.2 percent of coupon distribution.

Valpak, which is part of Cox Target Media, employs 1,200 people in Pinellas County, down about 100 from its peak five years ago. With the opening of its new $220-million facility off Interstate 275 in St. Petersburg, Valpak closed a North Carolina plant, eliminating 400 jobs there.

Helen Huntley can be reached at or (727) 893-8230.

Valpak too valuable for publisher Cox to keep 08/14/08 [Last modified: Monday, August 25, 2008 1:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New DEP secretary says there's no conflict in political side businesses


    TALLAHASSEE — When Noah Valenstein, the newly appointed head of the Department of Environmental Protection, was applying in April to be the state's top environmental regulator, he left one thing off the application: Companies he started and his wife runs have been paid nearly $1 million by politicians and lobbying …

     Noah Valenstein got the job as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday May 23rd, on a unanimous vote by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. He will take the helm on June 5, with a salary of $150,000 per year. [Florida Governor's Office]
  2. New stores coming to Tyrone Square Mall, like Bath & Body Works


    Tyrone Square Mall will welcome a half dozen new stores, like Bath & Body Works and MidiCi's The Neapolitan Pizza Company, this summer.

  3. Target Corp. reaches $18.5 million settlement with 47 states over data breach


    Target Corp. has agreed to pay Florida $928,963 out of a newly-announced $18.5 million settlement over a huge data breach that occurred in late 2013.

    Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia have reached an $18.5 million settlement with Target Corp. to resolve the states' probe into the discounter's massive pre-Christmas data breach in 2013. 
[Associated Press]
  4. Gov. Rick Scott's family history of alcohol abuse could decide 'liquor wall' bill


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott must decide Wednesday whether to let Walmart and other big-box stores sell liquor, and he says a factor in his decision is the history of alcohol abuse in his family.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott is considering a veto of a bill that would allow Walmart, Target and other big box retail stores to sell liquor. [Andres Leiva | Tampa Bay Times]
  5. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021


    TAMPA — Record rainfall in Los Angeles ultimately may end Tampa Bay's drought of hosting the Super Bowl.

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 

Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)