Metro Distribution Goes Bankrupt, Sells Assets to TNG

by BK Munn

It’s an under-reported story, and one that only tangentially impacts the world of Canadian small press comics, but worth noting here the two largest magazine distributors in this country have essentially merged after one of them went bankrupt this past Spring during the first COVID-19 Shutdown. Back in March, magazine and newspaper distro Metro 360 basically went out of business because all of its customers were closed. The company had been operating in some form for 100 years, with a peak net sales of $470 million. With the magazine business being the way it is, in 2019 their sales were “only” $120 million. With The Shutdown, Metro’s suppliers stopped shipping new inventory, stopped accepting returns, and everybody was scrambling for money. Metro was basically insolvent and filed a Notice of Intention to make a Proposal to sell its print distribution business to its only major Canadian competitor, TNG, which it is in the process of doing, saving the jobs of most of the 300+ Metro employees along the way. So now there is just one GIANT print distributor responsible for every magazine rack you see in Costco, Walmart, Rexall, Pharmasave, variety stores, and, yes, independent bookstores across the country. There are other smaller indy distros, of course, but they are tadpoles compared to the whale of the “new” TNG in the small pond of Canadian retail. TNG bought Metro for the fire sale price of $1 million, consolidating the distribution of an important aspect of our culture into one business. Most of what they distribute is U.S. product, with Canadian culture as usual fighting for shelf space against billion-dollar corporate juggernauts. Worth thinking about the next time you go to buy a magazine, if you can even find one for sale.

You can read the full Notice of Intent here, with a detailed history of the Metro 360 distribution company and its business, and the current state of the industry.