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Entrepreneur who sold family newspaper firm dies aged 60

A businessman who sold his family newspaper firm to a rival group for £5m before buying another group of newspapers has died at the age of 60.

Robert Breare took over from his father as head of Ackrill Newspapers, publishers of the Harrogate Advertiser and Ripon Gazette.

Following his father’s retirement, Robert sold the business to United News & Media, owners of the Yorkshire Post, for £5m, investing the sale proceeds in a group of newspapers on the South Coast.

He later went on to enjoy a long career as a so-called ‘corporate raider,’ buying and selling a range of businesses from the Malmaison Hotel chain to leisure group Arcadian.

Educated at Eton and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he read law, Robert joined R Ackrill and Co after university.

“It was always expected that I would work with dad, but when I got into the business, I found he had gone to sleep on the job,” he recalled in an interview published before his death.

His ambitions to expand the business were initially thwarted by his father but he eventually sold the papers after taking over.

He invested the sale proceeds in more newspapers, forming a company called Senews which bough the Hastings Observer and the Sussex Express and County Herald from Westminster Press.

These titles were eventually sold on for £18m to Emap before ultimately being bought by Johnston Press, which also now owns the former Ackrill Newspapers titles.

A full obituary covering Robert’s later business career appears in the Telegraph.


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  • July 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    A real character. I have never forgotten visiting newsagents with him his E-Type Jaguar – a 21st birthday present I believe – when he came to Pudsey to visit the old Pudsey and Stanningley News, a detached part of the R. Ackrill newspaper group.

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  • August 13, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Robert had terrific charisma and could be totally engaging, even when he was cutting a scythe through the newsroom. He did give talent a chance, embracing the possible and empowering those who were keen to succeed. Robert loved a battle – his ‘fictional exploits’ have been immortalised in David Gemmell’s book Waylander. Dave was a group editor at one Robert’s newspapers, observeing various ‘battles’ first-hand.

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