Lebhar-Friedman, Inc. History

425 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10022

Telephone: (212) 756-5000
Fax: (212) 207-8167

Private Company
Incorporated: 1925
Employees: 400
Sales: $90 million (2002 est.)
NAIC: 511120 Periodical Publishers; 511130 Book Publishers; 512230 Music Publishers; 561920 Convention and Trade Show Organizers; 511140 Database and Directory Publishers

Company Perspectives:

Lebhar-Friedman is the leading independent publisher and provider of information serving the retail community and its vast supplier network. For 77 years, Lebhar-Friedman has been committed to providing timely, provocative and essential information to its over half a million subscribers.

Key Dates:

Arnold Friedman, Godfrey M. Lebhar, and John Stern form Lebhar-Friedman, Inc. and launch Chain Store Age.
Lebhar-Friedman begins publishing Drug Store News.
The company begins publication of Discount Store News, which is later renamed DSN Retailing Today.
Chain Store Age holds the first SPECS: Store Planning, Equipment, Construction Services Seminars trade show and exposition.
Nation's Restaurant News is launched.
Lebhar-Friedman introduces National Home Center News.
Largo Music is established.
Apparel Merchandising begins publication.
Lebhar-Friedman begins to develop newsletters.
The company expands its book publishing division.
Lebhar-Friedman introduces Menu, a quarterly for culinary professionals.
Company celebrates a century of retailing; teams with the University of Houston to inaugurate a restaurant management certification program.

Company History:

Lebhar-Friedman, Inc. is the largest independent publisher of magazines and newspapers for the retail and foodservice industries. It also provides a wide range of other information products and services for its readers, including directories, executive fax and e-mail alerts, newsletters, databases, web sites, and trade shows and conferences. As of 2003 the company's principal periodicals included Chain Store Age, DSN [Discount Store News] Retailing Today, Drug Store News, Nation's Restaurant News, and Home Channel News. The company's directory publishing division, CSG [Chain Store Guides] Information Services, is based in Tampa, Florida, and produces industry-related directories based on a comprehensive database it maintains. The company also operates its own book publishing division, Lebhar-Friedman Books, and has a music publishing subsidiary, Largo Music, which owns and administers copyrights to musical compositions. Internationally, Chain Store Age News and General Merchandiser are published in Japan through the joint venture Diamond-Friedman. Another joint venture with Ediciones Y Estudios serves the growing Spanish distribution and advertising industries.

Early History: 1925-70

Lebhar-Friedman, Inc. was established in 1925 with the publication of the magazine Chain Store Age. Founded by Arnold Friedman, Godfrey M. Lebhar, and John Stern, Chain Store Age provided essential business information to the emerging industry of chain store retailers and their suppliers. Lebhar and Stern were publishing executives who provided financing, while Friedman served as editor and sales manager. As the retailing and foodservice industries grew during the 20th century, Lebhar-Friedman evolved into a multifaceted information company. The company remained privately held, and J. Roger Friedman succeeded his father as its president.

In the 1960s Lebhar-Friedman launched several new business-to-business periodicals aimed at different segments of the retail industry. In 1960 the company introduced Drug Store News under the title Chain Store Age Drug Magazine. Originally a monthly, it became a biweekly publication in 1978 providing information on new products and services, tips on store management, and similar topics to a circulation of 45,000 drug stores. Over the years Lebhar-Friedman introduced other targeted editions of Chain Store Age for specific retail markets, including Chain Store Age Supermarkets and others.

As discount stores became a new force in retailing, Lebhar-Friedman launched Discount Store News in 1962. Subsequently retitled DSN Retailing Today, the bimonthly periodical provided information on new products and services for discount store managers, along with articles on merchandising and operational methods and industry reports.

In 1964 Lebhar-Friedman held the inaugural SPECS: Store Planning, Equipment, Construction Services Seminars for retail headquarters executives from all retail segments. The trade show and seminars also were attended by suppliers and anyone involved in store construction, from product manufacturers to consultants and shopping center developers.

Lebhar-Friedman next turned its attention to the foodservice industry, where new developments such as fast-food and restaurant chains were taking place. In 1967 the company introduced Nation's Restaurant News, the newspaper of the foodservice industry. Originally published biweekly, it became a weekly in 1987 and was the leading source of information on new developments in foodservice. Its circulation grew to 90,000.

Lebhar-Friedman also began publishing industry-related directories that provided detailed individual company profiles, with key contact information and in-depth data. The 800- to 1,200-page directories also included statistical and graphic analyses of industry sectors, listings of major trade organizations and trade shows, trends, and other reference material. The directories were updated regularly, either annually or biennially.

Among the directories published by Lebhar-Friedman is the Directory of Home Center Operators and Hardware Chains, which was first published in 1948. It provided details on home centers, warehouses, and lumber and building materials cooperatives with more than $1 million in annual sales. In 1961 the company began publishing a directory of discount department stores, now titled Directory of Discount and General Merchandise Stores.

Targeting Other Retail Segments: 1970-90

In 1973 Lebhar-Friedman launched two new directories covering automotive supply chains and foodservice distributors. As the company's directory business grew, it established a subsidiary, CSG Information Services, in Tampa, Florida, for directory publishing and marketing.

In 1975 the company launched a new periodical for the home improvement industry. National Home Center News appeared 22 times a year and covered all aspects of the home improvement industry, including extended news coverage and industry statistics, along with special sections devoted to merchandising, marketing, operations, and similar topics. Lebhar-Friedman subsequently launched other periodicals for the home improvement industry, including Homemarket Trends and Home Channel News. In the mid-1970s Lebhar-Friedman established a joint venture in Japan, Diamond-Friedman, to publish Chain Store Age News and General Merchandise.

New periodicals introduced during the 1980s included Food Merchandising for Non-Food Retailers, which ceased publication in the 1990s; Apparel Merchandising, which was introduced in 1982; Computer and Software News, which was published from 1983 to 1989; and Drug Store News: Continuing Education Quarterly, which began targeting pharmacists in 1986.

The company also discontinued some of the targeted editions of its flagship publication, Chain Store Age, including Chain Store Age Supermarkets in 1983 and Chain Store Age General Merchandise Trends in 1988. Through surveys conducted by Lebhar-Friedman Research & Information Services, the company demonstrated the effectiveness of trade advertising in influencing purchase decisions. It also developed its own advertising campaigns to boost advertising in its business-to-business periodicals.

In 1987 Lebhar-Friedman reorganized to make way for the next generation under J. Roger Friedman's leadership. In that same year the company launched its first nonretail periodical, Accounting Today. The magazine was quickly recognized as a leading publication for the accounting profession. In 1994 Lebhar-Friedman sold Accounting Today to Faulkner & Gray, Inc., a New York City-based unit of Thomson Corporation.

One change instituted in the late 1980s by Lebhar-Friedman was to begin charging nonqualified individuals for subscriptions to its controlled circulation periodicals. It began by charging $25 a year for the biweekly Discount Store News. Within a couple of years there were 7,000 paid subscribers to the periodical, and the price had risen to $89. As a result, Lebhar-Friedman developed a similar pricing plan to charge nonqualified subscribers for its other controlled circulation periodicals.

Expanding Range of Information Products: 1990-2003

Responding to the globalization of the markets it served, Lebhar-Friedman formed a joint venture in 1995 with Corporate Intelligence, a London-based research firm. Corporate Intelligence offered a comprehensive range of retailing publications and services, including its proprietary online retailer database Euro-Retailnet. It also produced publications for the U.K. and pan-European markets, including The Retail Rankings and the Retail Research Report. The new London-based venture was called Corporate Intelligence on Retailing and combined the expertise and databases of both companies to produce published report and online services.

Lebhar-Friedman continued to expand its presence in providing information products and services to the United Kingdom and Europe. In 1998 it acquired the foodservice division of Marketpower, a market research firm based in London. The new division was renamed Foodservice Intelligence and reported to Nation's Restaurant News publisher James C. Doherty. Its principal products were market measurement and tracking services for the foodservice industry.

Lebhar-Friedman launched two new trade shows for the foodservice industry in the 1990s, MUFSO: MultiUnit Food Service Operators and FSTEC: Food Service Technology Show. Both served the audience of Nation's Restaurant News.

In 1998 Lebhar-Friedman announced that it was expanding its book publishing division, Lebhar-Friedman Books. It planned to produce about 24 titles annually that were focused on the niche retail industries served by the company's business-to-business periodicals. Among the topics to be covered were cookbooks and restaurant guides, retailing and management titles, educational training, and business history and biography.

In 1999 Lebhar-Friedman introduced Menu, a quarterly that provided fresh ideas for culinary professionals. Toward the end of 1999 the company acquired a minority interest in Restaurants Asia, which was published in Hong Kong.

In 2000 Lebhar-Friedman celebrated a century of retailing by hosting the Best of Century Awards at New York's Plaza Hotel. The event was attended by nearly 500 retailer and supplier executives. Later in 2000 Lebhar-Friedman and Nation's Restaurant News teamed with the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston to inaugurate a restaurant management certification program. The program consisted of four courses covering staffing, training, and supervision; customer service; sales and marketing; and law and litigation.

Responding to general weakness in the book market, Lebhar-Friedman scaled back its book publishing program in 2002. A list of 80 proposed titles was cut to eight, and the range of topics was limited to culinary subjects, including restaurant and dining guides. The company continued to publish its Chain Store Guide directories from its Tampa office. Approximately 15 directories were organized into three categories: Specialty Retailers and Distributors, Mass Merchandising, and Food Retailing and Foodservice.

Throughout its more than 75-year history, Lebhar-Friedman has remained focused on its core business of serving the information needs of retail executives and managers and their suppliers. The company's growth and diversification mirrored that of the retail industry itself in the 20th century. As a result, Lebhar-Friedman can rightly call itself, "The Voice of Retailing."

Principal Subsidiaries: Corporate Intelligence on Retailing (United Kingdom); Foodservice Intelligence (United Kingdom); Diamond-Friedman (Japan).

Principal Divisions: Lebhar-Friedman Books; Largo Music Publishing; CSG Information Services.

Principal Competitors: Bill Communications, Inc.; Business Research Publications, Inc.; E W A Publications; National Retail Foundation; National Retail Merchants Association; Retail Reporting Bureau.

Further Reading:

  • "A Celebration for the Ages," DSN Retailing Today, May 8, 2000, p. 14.
  • "DiRoNA and Lebhar-Friedman Books Premiere New Dining Guide," Nation's Restaurant News, May 22, 2000, p. 284.
  • "Estes, Doll Named to Key L-F Posts," Chain Store Age Supermarkets, February 1983, p. 30.
  • Forseter, Murray, "Chain Store Age: Auld Lang Syne," Chain Store Age - General Merchandise Trends, January 1988, p. 5.
  • Friedman, J. Roger, "100 Years of Retailing," Discount Store News, April 17, 2000, p. 5.
  • ------, "Retailing: The Heart of American Business," Drug Store News, July 11, 1994, p. 8.
  • "Lebhar-Friedman Buys Foodservice Division of Marketpower," Nation's Restaurant News, February 9, 1998, p. 4.
  • "Lebhar-Friedman Expands Its Book Publishing Division," Nation's Restaurant News, May 4, 1998, p. 8.
  • "Lebhar-Friedman Forms Publishing Partnership with London Firm," Nation's Restaurant News, May 1, 1995, p. 64.
  • "Mahler, ex-DrSN Publisher, to Develop L-F Newsletters," Drug Store News, May 1, 1989, p. 5.
  • "Make Non-Qualified Readers Pay," Folio: The Magazine for Magazine Management, October 1, 1991, p. 9.
  • "Mergers & Acquisitions," Folio: The Magazine for Magazine Management, March 1, 1994, p. 69.
  • "More Evidence That Trade Advertising Works," Folio: The Magazine for Magazine Management, March 1988, p. 38.
  • "Restaurants Asia," Business Publisher, November 30, 1999, p. 8.
  • "Univ. of Houston Hilton Hospitality School, Lebhar-Friedman Sponsor Program," Nation's Restaurant News, August 28, 2000, p. 81.
  • Zeitchik, Steven, "Lebhar-Friedman Condenses Book Program," Publishers Weekly, January 7, 2002, p. 13.
  • Zeldis, Nancy, "Staying on the Ball at Lebhar-Friedman," Folio: The Magazine for Magazine Management, April 1986, p. 51.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 55. St. James Press, 2003.