Loot is the original and one of the United Kingdom's leading free classified advertising publishers.


History and profile

Loot was founded in 1984 when David Landau, an Oxford don and an art historian, picked up a magazine titled Secondamano ["second-hand"] in a Milan airport, believing it to be an antiques magazine. Finding out it was a free classifieds magazine instead, he was intrigued by the concept and discovered that no similar publication existed in the UK at that time. Together with his sister Elizabeth [who came up with the name Loot for the new venture] and her husband Dominic Gill, then music critic for the Financial Times, the trio raised the money to launch their first publication, the London edition of LOOT: London's Noticeboard, in 1985.

The paper was launched in March 1985 on paper the same colour as the Financial Times [i.e. pale pink or salmon], as a means "to buy, sell or exchange absolutely anything", and published every Thursday containing only 16 pages of ads in the first edition, but soon increasing the number of pages. Ads were limited to "50 words" [349 characters], but this was later cut to "30 words". The magazine used the slogan LOOT stands for "Look Out On Thursdays", but later started publishing a Monday edition printed on yellow paper. During the early days, LOOT's policy was to have a forum called the Personal Messages column 100 on the front page, continuing on page 2, which was nothing to do with selling and contained messages from people who started to use various pen names or "LOOT names" [e.g. IWETEC standing for I Will Escape To the European Continent, Dirty Harry, Guitar man, Tiger, Sunshine, Harlequin, Lambkins, and Michelin Man], but after several months this moved to column 900 near the back, along with other personal or social categories, such as Announcements, Campaign/Lobby, and Lonely Hearts. The first "LOOT Night Out" [LNO] was held in September 1985 at a venue in northwest London called "The Production Village" for advertisers in the Personal Messages column to meet each other and some of the staff. This was followed up by a few larger scale "LOOT Nights Out", organised by the magazine themselves, attended by a larger cross section of LOOT readers, then continued with smaller scale events organised by the advertisers in the Personal Messages column. LOOT started publishing three weekly editions, then increased to five weekly editions, each on a different colour paper, including light green and the more common off white like most newspapers. In 1988, Loot started a Manchester edition, which was followed by other regional editions. At one point, Loot's free-ads publication was published in 20 editions per week across the UK [including county-based editions such as Essex and Kent] with a weekly circulation of approximately 180,000 copies in 1994 Loot launched Loot.com headed by then loot London managing director Graham Tolhurst, Loot.com quickly grew to one of the world's largest online marketplaces, in 1999 receiving more than 1.5 million advertisements online per month. As of February 2012, Loot is published thrice weekly in London and Manchester and weekly in Liverpool; two specialist papers, Loot Recruit and Jobs Week are also published weekly in the London area, and Bargain Pages in the West Midlands Its website, Loot.com, generates approximately 24 million monthly page impressions and had 557,000 unique users, based on a March 2009 ABC audit.

The Loot group was bought in June 2000 by Scoot.com but the company was forced to sell the publication at a heavy loss just 14 months later to Daily Mail and General Trust and Loot became a division of Associated New Ventures, featuring private and business advertisements in over 600 classifications. In 2010 it was bought from DMGT by Printing Investments Ltd, reuniting the publication with Buy&Sell, an Irish classifieds magazine previously owned by Loot.