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Reach reveals CEO’s departure as company publishes half-yearly results

Simon FoxReach plc chief executive Simon Fox is to leave his role next month, the company has confirmed.

The regional publisher has announced Simon, pictured, will depart on 16 August after seven years in the post.

He will be replaced by Jim Mullen, who was most recently chief executive of gambling firm Ladbrokes Coral plc and has previously worked as director of product management and director of digital strategy at News International.

The announcement comes as Reach revealed a slight decline in revenue in its half-yearly financial report, which was published this morning.

Under his tenure, Simon oversaw the £220m purchase of Local World in 2015 and the £127m deal to buy the Daily Express and Daily Star last year.

Said Simon: “There is never an ideal time to leave an organisation, but if there were it would be now. The integration of the Express and Star has been successfully completed, digital growth is accelerating and our trading and cash position are strong.

“I am proud of what has been achieved and will provide Jim with whatever support is required to ensure a smooth handover.”

Nick Prettejohn, chairman of Reach, added: “I would like to thank Simon for the great job he has done over the past seven years. As the first half results demonstrate, he leaves Reach in very good health, with a strong balance sheet and real progress in developing the business for the future.

“We have an excellent successor in Jim and I am pleased to have a seamless transition.”

Jim himself said: “I am delighted to be joining Reach at such an exciting time and look forward to building upon its digital transformation.”

Statutory results for the first half of 2019 showed a decrease in revenue of 0.3pc, which currently stands at £352.6m compared to 353.8m for the same period last year.

However, the group revealed its digital revenue had increased by 9.7pc on a like for like basis from £41.5m to £48.7m, with average monthly page views on its websites growing by 16pc year on year to 1.2bn in 2019.

Print revenues declined slightly from £306.4m to £301.8m over the same period, but the company reaffirmed its commitment to “improving the quality of content and operational efficieny of our print business” as part of its three-pronged strategy of optimising, growing and commercialising the business.

Following the company’s recent confirmation it was interested in buying “certain of JPIMedia’s assets”, the report said: “We will consider merger and acquisition opportunities which accelerate progress on all three pillars of our strategy and where the financial and business case meets our requirements.

“We believe growth from digital and new revenue streams will begin to offset print declines on an aggregate basis, leading to a future stabilisation of revenue.

“This, combined with our inbuilt and relentless focus on efficiencies, makes the board confident that the delivery of sustainable growth in revenue, profit and cash flow is achievable in the future, for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

Reach also revealed a plan to improve its mobile websites which includes an AI driven personalised recommendation engine.

It is hoped the innovation “will keep people circulating on our sites for longer as they find further articles to read that are of particular interest to them.”

7 comments

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  • July 29, 2019 at 10:45 am
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    Out with the old, along with a hefty settlement no doubt ,and in with someone who apparently knows all about gambling and digital news strategy.

    Couple that a further decline in print revenues and with their stated “…inbuilt and relentless focus on efficiencies…” and it looks like the future is online and with more job cuts (or ‘efficiencies’ ) to come.

    New face, same strategies

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  • July 29, 2019 at 10:50 am
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    So the CEO circus continues with the same old strategy. Let me translate – “This, combined with our inbuilt and relentless focus on efficiencies, makes the board confident that the delivery of sustainable growth in revenue, profit and cash flow is achievable in the future, for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

    In real terms – Come in, combine everything, reduce headcount, buy a few bits and bobs, reduce headcount again, show a profit and bail out, saying look at what I have done, aren’t I good. I’m rich beyond my wildest dreams’.

    Then on to the next job.
    Not much for Jim Mullen to trim back unless Reach buy up all of JPI media. Then there will be synergy savings / efficiencies……………….Come in, combine everything………………………Ta Da!

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  • July 29, 2019 at 10:50 am
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    Crikey, if things couldn’t get any worse they employ a CEO who has all the business eggs in the FOBT basket as Ladbrokes could shut 1000 shops because of it with 4500 jobs at risk. Good luck people

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  • July 29, 2019 at 11:38 am
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    Monday’s competition for all you good people out there. Rearrange these words to make a well-known saying or phrase: Sinking leaving rats ship.

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  • July 29, 2019 at 2:37 pm
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    Fox and Vaghela did a bloody good job compared to Highfield and Murray/King.

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  • July 30, 2019 at 1:41 pm
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    Table clearly laid out there for all to see;

    Emphasis on digital news development with a token glance towards print
    And the push for continuing efficiencies will manifest itself by reducing staff numbers, head counts, and FTEs

    So, even money it’ll be…
    More work
    Same pay
    Fewer staff
    Nice cost savings

    It’s not looking good for the runners and riders is it

    No more bets folks, no more bets

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