Belfast Telegraph

Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield quits publisher

The publisher owns titles such as The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post.

Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield has resigned, citing family reasons.

The publisher, which owns titles such as The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post, said that Mr Highfield agreed with the board that he will not put himself up for re-election at the AGM on June 5.

“Ashley is leaving for family reasons and in order to fulfil his plans to transition to be a ‘plural’ non-executive director as the next phase of his career,” Johnston Press said in a stock market announcement.

Mr Highfield, who has been at the helm of the publisher since 2011 and spearheaded the acquisition of the i newspaper, will be replaced by finance chief David King.

Johnston Press chairman Camilla Rhodes said: “I would like to thank Ashley for his significant contribution since becoming CEO in 2011.

“We are sorry that he felt that his personal circumstances required a change at this time.

Ashley oversaw the successful acquisition of the i newspaper, has driven growth in our digital footprint, while making substantial progress in reorganising and restructuring our business Camilla Rhodes, Johnston Press

“Ashley oversaw the successful acquisition of the i newspaper, has driven growth in our digital footprint, while making substantial progress in reorganising and restructuring our business.”

Mr Highfield’s departure comes weeks after Johnston Press signalled a fresh round of cost-cutting, saying a challenging market has put pressure on revenues, which dropped nearly 10% over 2017.

While Johnston Press managed to narrow its pre-tax losses to £95 million from £300.7 million a year earlier, the company said it was likely to extend an efficiency drive.

Mr Highfield said: “I have been privileged to lead Johnston Press during a period of unprecedented turbulence in our industry.

“Since 2011 we have grown our overall audience, in particular our digital business, created an industry-leading telesales operation and maintained margins.

“The acquisition of the i newspaper has been a particular highlight.

“I am proud of what the board and my colleagues have achieved and would like to thank them all for their support. I wish David every success in his new role.”

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