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Johnston Press bolsters its commercial team to accelerate revenue growth in its online properties

Johnston Press CEO Ashley Highfield

Johnston Press is bolstering its commercial team with the appointment of four senior members across the UK and Northern Ireland to accelerate revenue growth in its online properties as pressure mounts on the business to reverse its collapsing stock.

Drew Carmichael has been appointed sales director for Scotland, joining from Lyreco where he was strategic and international director. Carmichael has been charged with leading the Scottish sales team to drive Johnston Press’ transformational sales strategy.

His appointment follows on from the hire of Brian Commins as sales director for Northern Ireland in late August. Commins was previously sponsorship and promotions director at Virgin Radio and managing director at CityBeat Radio.

Andrew Bibby also joined the business as group digital sales strategy director based in London, a role that will see him work with all vertical team heads, the product development team and the marketing team. Bibby will take overall responsibility for the publisher’s digital sales strategy, with the aim of better taking advantage of the its highly engaged online audience.

Meanwhile Russell Kenyon becomes group digital sales director, taking responsibility for selling Johnston Press’ digital solutions. Formerly head of group sales at Fuel Card Services and vice-president of sales at LivingSocial, Kenyon has been charged with accelerating revenue growth from Johnston Press’ full range of online products.

Last month an activist investor, Crystal Amber, met with Johnston Press’ chairman Ian Russell to discuss whether the struggling publisher should be pushed to change as it saw the value of its investment slide.

In August following the publisher’s half-year results, the company cut the valuation of its title and print assets by 45 per cent to £224m and increased its debt to £209m, up from £183m a year ago.

It is not publicly known if the investor fund has been agitating for change, but today's (7 October) news that the publisher is bolstering its commercial sell is likely an attempt to appeal to stockholder concerns and find new ways to bring the business back in the green.

John Bills, group managing director at Johnston Press, said: “I’m thrilled to welcome each and every one of our new hires to the Johnston Press team, marking our continued investment in reengineering our sales force, further improving our customer focused approach and further expanding our digital offering, in terms of the products we deliver and also the audiences we reach, both loyal and new.”

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