Difford on CLASS and Diffordsguide


Simon Difford, of Diffordsguide.com, was recently in Sydney to take up judging duties for the final of Bacardi Legacy. Though he was in town for just a few days and didn’t manage to get to as many bars he would have liked, one of the bars he did get to was The Lobo Plantation. “I really, really liked it,” he said. During our chat he also described the evolution from CLASS Magazine to Diffordsguide.com.

“Just before I bought the rights [to CLASS Magazine] back, I was quoted in a magazine in the Netherlands. They asked would I ever do a magazine again, and I said: “no never ever again would I do a magazine”. And then two months later, just as that magazine came out, I bought CLASS Magazine back,” he said.

“We stopped printing CLASS Magazine as a print publication a couple of years ago, just because the print magazine had a couple of thousand subscribers around the world, and the website, on a really bad month, we have 130,000 unique users on the website. It makes the magazine looks sick, so I decided this is a waste of time, printing magazines, we just need to concentrate on the websites and we’ll publish a weekly online magazine. And we’ve been doing that for the last couple of years.

“I recently decided that’s a waste of time too: why are you doing a bloody magazine on the internet? The magazine suggests something that is either weekly or monthly, but the internet is by the minute or by the hour or by the day at worse. So we’re dumping the magazine format, we’re revamping the whole site, and we’re moving to heroing content we add every single day. Forget my magazine past, and properly moving in to the dot com age and giving up magazines forever.”


Difford also recently sold out of the company that owns London Cocktail Week, he said. “I owned 70 per cent of the company that owns London Cocktail Week and I told my fellow investors that I thought it was a good time for us to sell it, and they agreed to buy it,” he said.

Diffordsguide is becoming quite a global business. It used to be we were a UK publishing house, printing in paper only distributed to the UK, now some months less than 30 per cent of our traffic is from the UK. 25 per cent of our traffic is from America — nearly five per cent comes from Australia.

“I thought the best thing was to concentrate on the main product, so instead of continuing investing in building weeks, we should build the website. So the best thing we could do was sell the Week, take the money and invest it in the website. It would be a more sensible business approach to do,” he said.

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