Jim Armitage: Simon Fox's internet strategy at Trinity Mirror is positive
Jim Armitage is the City editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard group of newspapers. He has been a reporter and editor for more than 20 years and was recently shortlisted for the Press Gazette financial journalist of the year and The Society of Editors financial journalist of the year awards. He contributes news, investigative reports and comment to the Independent titles plus a daily column in the Evening Standard.
Thursday 09 January 2014
Outlook Simon Fox got a pretty bad kicking as HMV lumbered to its death under his command. At his current berth, the Trinity Mirror newspaper group, the headlines are treating him more kindly. At HMV, he launched gimmicky distractions and store revamps when what the music chain needed was a radical edit in the form of a wholesale cull of cash-draining stores.
On the face of it, you could argue that the innovations for which he's earned the most positive column inches lately at Trinity Mirror have been pretty superficial too: a lightweight news website in Ampp3d and a Buzzfeed-ish "and finally…" type site in UsVsTh3m. At the time of writing, the latter was leading with a laboured feature on a porn version of Spongebob Squarepants. They're cheap to run, but attract millions of viewers and decent publicity for Trinity's internet strategy. Cleverer than they look, in other words.
The City may not be as fooled by online dreams as it once was, but for a media company to go from having no web plans to having some can only be seen as a positive. That's the case at Trinity Mirror, where Mr Fox's handsomely paid predecessor Sly Bailey was widely criticised by those who said she had no online strategy at all.
Meanwhile, with the economy hopefully picking up this year and newsprint costs falling, some investors are saying Mr Fox's old fashioned newspaper businesses might even have an okay year. Particularly now he has battened down costs. Stick all these elements together, and you get a share price that closed last night at 213.5p. That's more than double its price a year ago, putting Mr Fox on track for a bonus of £2m if he can keep it up this year. Now there's a pay deal even Ms Bailey wouldn't sniff at.
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