Review of the year - Regional Press

Review of the year - Regional Press

McCormack: resigned as Amra's chief executive

Who is going to buy Regional Independent Media prompted the most speculation this year, with the Guardian Media Group, Johnston Press, Gannett UK and Associated Newspapers all pursuing RIM. However, the Department of Trade and Industry has extended the deadline for bids until next November.

Johnston Press got as far as handing over £16.1m for eight Trinity Mirror Midlands titles in July, only for it to be blocked on competition grounds by Competition Minister Melanie Johnston.

Sustained by local advertisers, the regional press sector did not suffer as badly as some other media this year. Indeed, in August, Johnston Press recorded a 14% rise in pre-tax profits to £43m and a 3.2% like-for-like growth in ad revenue, while in November, RIM announced a 9.4% growth in pre-tax profits.

Regional publishers were helped by the Newspaper Society, which continued to sell the sector to the agencies and urge cross-company co-operation.

This co-operation was seen in Associated and GMG teaming up to launch Metro in Manchester in February, with Associated providing content and GMG handling local sales.

However, the sector also saw many workers losing their jobs. Trinity Mirror announced 800 job cuts in July, after its pre-tax profits fell by 10% during the first half of the year.

On the sales front, Amra and Newsquest's managing directors, Lisa Bourne and Gary McNish, swapped jobs.

Amra, Trinity Mirror's national sales house, announced a management shake-up which will see Mike McCormack (pictured) quit his role as chief executive in February and day-to-day running taken over by McNish.

Chairman John Eccleston is also stepping down after three years in the role.

Amra recently poached Newsquest's national sales director Sue Bebber to head up its London sales team, while Belfast Telegraph Newspapers commercial director John Leslie returned to Glasgow during the summer to take up the role of ad director on the Daily Record and the Sunday Mail.

Northcliffe Newspapers managing director Alec Davidson resigned in September with the admission that he had ploughed too much money into the company's online operations.

He was replaced by the chief operating officer at Associated New Media, Kevin Beatty.

The regionals' online fortunes were mixed. Trinity slashed
its web spending by 45%, whereas Northcliffe Newspapers revamped its
This Is websites in October.

Fish4 doesn't seem to have been as troubled and committed £2m to marketing in May.

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