Boss of publisher to step down from post next month

Simon Fox

The chief executive of the firm which owns the Manchester Evening News and the Liverpool Echo is to step down.

Simon Fox, the boss of Reach, is to leave his role next month after seven years in charge.

The firm, which is one of the largest media groups in the UK, used to be called Trinity Mirror.

Mr Fox, the former boss of HMC, will be replaced by Jim Mullen, who was most recently chief executive of gambling firm Ladbrokes Coral.

Mr Mullen has previously worked as director of product management and director of digital strategy at News International.

The announcement came on the day Reach announced a slight decline in revenue in its half-yearly financial report.

During his time at the publisher Simon Fox oversaw the £220m purchase of the Local World group and the £127m deal to buy the Daily Express and Daily Star.

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

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

Digital revenue increased by 9.7% on a like for like basis from £41.5m to £48.7m, with average monthly page views on its websites growing by 16% 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.

Reach confirmed it is considering buying some of JPIMedia’s assets.

JPIMedia was formed following the collapse of Johnston Press into administration with debts of £200m.