Sunset magazine, the more than century-old publication that promoted a refined vision of the California lifestyle, has been sold to a Beverly Hills private equity firm.
Time Inc. announced the deal Thursday with Regent, which is led by Michael Reinstein, a native Californian.
“I grew up with this magazine and it was a no-brainer when I saw this was up for sale,” said Reinstein, who intends to boost the magazine’s coverage of Southern California. “I’m hoping this can become the definitive lifestyle brand for the West.”
Sunset was founded in 1898 by Southern Pacific Transportation Co. to dispel perceptions of the American West as a wild and lawless place.
The publication evolved into a lifestyle trendsetter, with writing on food, gardening, design and the environment. It included work by literary greats such as Jack London, Dashiell Hammett and Sinclair Lewis.
Sunset, based in Oakland, says it reaches an audience of 6.5 million in print and digitally.
The sale comes days after Time agreed to be sold for $2.8 billion to Meredith Corp., the owner of lifestyle properties such as Better Homes and Gardens. Reinstein said he briefly worried that Meredith would also make a play for Sunset given its portfolio of lifestyle publications.
Time announced in July that it was seeking buyers for Sunset as part of a restructuring strategy to lift the company’s sagging finances.
Irene Edwards, Sunset’s editor in chief of two years, said the staff of about 30 would be reduced to about 25 as a result of the sale. She said Sunset would have to hire sales and marketing staff, as people in those position previously were provided by Time.
The magazine intends to invest more in its digital and social media reach, as well as events, said Edwards, who described a sense of relief among her staff about the sale.
“We’ve been waiting for news for months and months,” said Edwards, peering into a newsroom where staff members were still working and celebrating with glasses of wine.