James Ashton: Fox must prove he is the right man for Mirror job

  • @mrjamesashton

I have to admit surprise that Simon Fox feels ready to take over the reins at Trinity Mirror. I would have thought a long lie-down under a damp towel would have been preferable to leaping from one troubled firm to another.

Surely the headhunters could have found an alternative to Mr Fox, who was utterly outfoxed by the challenges facing HMV, Britain's sole surviving music retailer?

I'm told shareholders opposed some names suggested to them with newspaper backgrounds. I can see why, but please don't think that reinventing Trinity as a "multi-platform community media group" (copyright Ashley Highfield at Johnston Press) means you have to have some digital eccentric at the helm. Mr Fox's HMV vision was blurred. He carried on trading from too many shops for too long, even though the CD market was crashing, and spent heavily on live concert venues, only to sell them on shortly after.

However, he can redeem himself by making a single phone call. If Mr Fox can finally persuade the Daily Mail group to inject its regional arm, Northcliffe, into Trinity, he instantly creates a local media group that covers much of the country and can sell itself as a proposition to national advertisers. Because of the costs that can be stripped out, it is a deal that gives him a year's air cover to devise a cogent digital strategy.