Kent Messenger Group chief executive David Lewis is to leave the company.
He joined the media group in 1994 as editorial director, becoming publishing director responsible for the editorial, advertising and newspaper sales departments in 1996, when he also joined the company board. He became managing director in 1999 and chief executive in 2002.
He is stepping down to enable him to spend more time with his wife Brenda who has been fighting cancer for the past six years.
During his time with the company he has overseen the closure of the daily Medway Today (2003) and the continued expansion of the weekly titles.
In 2005 the KM became the first regional publisher to install a polybagging line, enabling it to protect its newspapers and supplements in a plastic wrap.
In the most recent ABC circulation figures, the Kent Messenger retained its position as the country’s best selling weekly title, now selling an average 53,987 copies a week.
The Kent Messenger Group, which employs 750 staff across 19 Kent offices, has achieved a number of regional press industry awards during David’s tenure and developed a network of seven local radio stations in the transition to an organisation which is in the top ten regional groups in the country.
He said: “It has been a privilege working with the family shareholders, directors and staff.
“The organisation has a strong management team and will continue the evolution of a newspaper business into a multi-media company focussed very much on Kent and its communities.
“While it is difficult to leave the business at such an exciting stage in its development, my family must come first.”
David began his newspaper career with North of England Newspapers on the Evening Despatch in Darlington.
His big move was to become editor of the Bradford Star and Kentish Times Newspapers, Sidcup, where was later appointed deputy managing director.
In 1990 he moved to Associated Newspapers in London to work as a consultant with the Evening Standard and Daily Mail.
Geraldine Allinson, chairman of the KM, said: “We are sad to see David go. He has been a tower of strength over the past ten years, in which the KM has had unprecedented growth and expansion, including launching papers in Bexley and Bromley, expanding our kmfm network of radio stations serving Kent, and building a strong senior management team.
“Along with my father Edwin Boorman, the former chairman and now president of the KM, I have worked closely with David, and respect his decision to have more time with his wife. We are sorry to lose him. The Kent Messenger board and all KM staff wish him well.”