THE PIONEER YEARS
In 1954, Dr. Jur. Willy De Nolf, father of the present managing director Rik De Nolf,
left the Kortrijk bar to manage Roularta NV. In the centre of Roeselare, he set up Roularta NV, a small printing and publishing company for two local Roeselare weekly newspapers, the Roeselaarse Weekbode and Advertentie, the former a paid weekly newspaper and the latter an freesheet delivered door-to-door.
In the following years, the number of Advertentie editions was expanded, and in 1960, De Weekbode grew into an authoritative weekly for the entire centre of West Flanders. The later “Krant van West-Vlaanderen” gradually took shape through the development of ever new papers and through acquisitions of local weeklies such as Mandelpost (1957), De Torhoutenaar (1960), Burgerwelzijn (1968), Het Ypersch Nieuws (1979), De Zondag (1978), De Zeewacht (1980), Het Nieuwsblad van de Kust (1981), De Torhoutse Bode (1985).
The steady growth quickly outstripped existing printing capacity and in 1963 work began on a new printing works on the Meiboomlaan in Roeselare. To this day, this location remains Roularta Media Group's true home base.
Ten years on, Roularta Media Group took the decision to expand beyond the province of West Flanders. Advertentie Groot-Antwerpen and Advertentie Groot-Gent were launched to serve the Antwerp and Ghent conurbations. The De Nolf family then decided to go national, starting up regional editions along the course of the new E3 motorway (now the E17). Reflecting this, the old name Advertentie was changed to Groep E3.
One of the first newspaper presses: the Plamag rotary press
In the latter half of the 60s, E3 Diksmuide, E3 Veurne, E3 Groot-Brugge, E3 Waasland, E3 Eeklo, E3 Zuid-Vlaanderen, E3 Vlaamse Ardennen, E3 Groot-Aalst, E3 Dendermonde, E3 Ninove, E3 Geraardsbergen, E3 Leuven, E3 Mechelen and E3 Oostende were all launched.
In 1968 the printing works were again extended, with a new wing added to accommodate the 90 employees and a new Plamag rotary press. And in 1969 total circulation of all freesheet editions hit the magic 1 million mark. Regional offices in the main Flemish cities collected advertising for these new local editions. The company was on the threshold of rapid growth.