Trinity Mirror names Sue Douglas, former Sunday Express editor, to publishing director of the newly formed Sunday Brands, after she was rejected purchase of majority stake in company; new division to include the Sunday People, Sunday Mail in Scotland
June 4, 2013
(Guardian Web )
– Former Sunday Express editor Sue Douglas is to join Trinity Mirror to take charge of the Sunday People, weeks after her plans to buy a majority stake in the title were rejected by the publisher.
Douglas will be publishing director of a wholly-owned Trinity Mirror subsidiary, which will be chaired by ex-ITV commercial chief Rupert Howell, who was also involved in her bid to buy a controlling stake in the Sunday People.
The new subsidiary, Sunday Brands, will also include the Sunday Mail in Scotland, Wales on Sunday and regional titles the Sunday Mercury in Birmingham and Sunday Sun in Newcastle – but exclude the Sunday Mirror.
Editors of the titles in the new division, including James Scott of the Sunday People, will report to Douglas.
In turn, Douglas and Howell will report to Simon Fox, the chief executive of Trinity Mirror, and Mark Hollinshead, Trinity Mirror's chief operating officer.
"I've spent the last two years pursuing a dream to revitalise this part of the media market, so I'm thrilled to get the opportunity to lead the re-vamp of the Sunday People under James Scott's editorship, as well as develop the other Sunday titles," said Douglas. "This is a chance to put energy, fun and great journalism into what will become a seven-day digital, one-day print operation."
As a group the Sunday Brands titles will have combined sales of more than 800,000 copies every week.
The Sunday People, the flagship brand of the new division, had a circulation of 421,055 copies,according to the most recent Audit Bureau of Circulations report.
The Sunday Mail in Scotland has an average circulation of 292,591, Wales on Sunday sells 22,660 copies per week, the Sunday Sun has 40,569 copy sales and the Sunday Mercury 34,270.
Trinity Mirror senior executives are understood to have been impressed with the business pitch for the Sunday People made by Douglas and Howell, and looked to bring them on board after deciding against accepting a bid and ceding control of the title.
"We have got to know Sue and Rupert well over the last few months and are really delighted that they have agreed to join us," said Fox. "Ours is a talent and content business, so to attract talent of this calibre is a real coup."
Douglas's firm, Phoenix Ventures, began talks with Trinity Mirror about taking a stake late last year, although raising funds of up to £10m to secure a deal is understood to have proved difficult.
Last month, Trinity Mirror called an official end to sale discussions, but had for some time been looking at other ways of working with the pair.
Douglas has been looking to get involved in the Sunday newspaper market since Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World in 2011.
The pair believe that there is a huge opportunity to hoover up the 1.3 million-plus reader who did not gravitate to a rival title after the Sunday tabloid's closure, and that there is unrealised potential in developing daily digital-only editorial products in conjunction with Sunday print titles.
"The group faces a number of challenges in common with the rest of the sector, but is blessed with a fantastic stable of titles across the UK, and the determination to pursue its clear strategy to transform its fortunes and build a dynamic and growing media business," said Howell.
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