Two regional managing directors are set to leave Johnston Press in a restructure that will see several publishing divisions combined.
Chief executive Ashley Highfield has unveiled a series of management changes which he says are designed to create a more “agile” leadership team and speed up decision-making.
Those leaving the business include Jean Long, regional MD for Northern Ireland, and Stuart Birkett, whose portfolio previously covered the group’s Scottish titles.
Said Ashley: “The changes I’m implementing are to make us a more agile and effective leadership team and speed up our decision-making processes.
“In addition, we need to allow our digital team to be even more focused on developing great new products and capabilities for our customers.
“These are exciting times digitally and we need to be even more invested in selecting and delivering the best for our audiences.
“I want to thank Jean and Stuart for their long service – 22 years in both cases – and enormous contribution to the business. I wish them every success with their future endeavours.”
The changes will include the creation of a digital product group, to be headed by digital product development officer Jeff Moriarty, which will focus entirely on product development across all platforms.
The role of chief commercial officer rolem, held by Neil Jones until his departure earlier this summer, is being replaced by a new position of group managing director.
This role will be filled, on an interim basis, by John Bills, currently MD of North Midlands & South Yorkshire, with Midlands MD Richard Parkinson extending his own role to cover John’s responsibilities in the interim.
Ashley also announced the creation of a new role of chief creative officer which he said would “put innovation and creativity at the forefront of our solutions for advertisers.”
And the newspaper circulation team and the marketing team will combine to create a single marketing function, led by chief marketing officer Lucy Sinclair, who will be responsible for circulation and total audience growth, assisted by Richard Thomson, former group sales and circulation director, who takes on the expanded role of marketing operations and content sales director.
The full list of new roles and responsibilities for the regional MDs are as follows:
• Richard Parkinson, MD for the Midlands, has his portfolio extended to include interim responsibility for North Midlands South Yorkshire while John Bills is acting Group MD. Richard will also lead the development of the Property category and, in the interim, national advertising and digital sales development.
• Stephen Plews, MD for the North East, has his portfolio extended to include all the Scottish brands excluding The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and Edinburgh Evening News.
• Karl Dimmock, MD of the South, will now also lead the development of the Motors category.
• Warren Butcher, MD of the North West and Isle of Man, has his portfolio extended to include the Northern Ireland brands.