EMI poaches head of Island Records Nick Gatfield from Universal Music

EMI has poached Nick Gatfield from rival Universal Music to run the group's Artists and Repertoire (A&R) operations across the US and the UK.

Mr Gatfield is EMI's second senior appointment this month, following the recruitment of Douglas Merrill from Google to lead the group's digital strategy and business development activities.

Both are part of a re-organisation instituted by Guy Hands, the chief executive, after his Terra Firma private equity company bought the group for £2.4bn in September last year. The challenge is to enable the traditional music giant to compete in the internet age and Mr Hands announced global job cuts of between 1,500 and 2,000 in January as part of his rescue strategy. Sources close to the company say further senior appointments are expected in the coming months.

As president of Universal's Island Records Group since 2001, Mr Gatfield's triumphs include signing Amy Winehouse – whose Back to Black album has sold almost nine million copies – as well as Keane, Busted and the Sugarbabes. In his new position, all EMI's heads of label in the US and the UK will report to him.

"As well as developing some of today's most popular artists and music around the world, Nick Gatfield has also demonstrated his talents for embracing and delivering change," Mr Hands said. "At Universal, he has led a complete turnaround in both creative and financial terms and built it into the most successful domestic repertoire label in the UK. The combination of Nick Gatfield and Douglas Merrill working together will enable EMI to reposition itself in new music."

Mr Gatfield said: "My goal is to nurture the culture of creativity and change [at EMI], working in true partnership with the talented artists and A&R people.

"I am extremely excited about EMI's determination to embrace a new way of working with artists that recognises both the importance of the history of the labels but also the importance of new technologies."