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Trinity Mirror’s product director Chris Russell departs following major website overhaul

Trinity Mirror’s product director Chris Russell has parted ways with the publisher after delivering a major website rehaul across the group, to seek a “new challenge” in 2017.

It is not yet known if a replacement has been lined up to take over the role.

Russell has been with the publisher for three years, first appointed as head of product. He joined in 2013 from the BBC where he was head of product for numerous strands at the broadcaster, including news at BBC Future Media, and the Commonwealth Games.

In November, Russell oversaw a major rehaul of the publisher’s technological platform, moving Trinity Mirror’s flagship brand The Mirror onto a new platform, while the website was redesigned to adapt to each device, said to be twice as fast as its predecessor and adaptable to different devices. The new framework also provides better ad viewability, the publisher claimed.

As part of the overhaul, Trinity Mirror’s network of regional newspaper titles were moved onto the new platform, including Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo and Newcastle Chronicle.

Russell said: "I’m proud to have developed a product strategy and team which has transformed and Trinity Mirror’s large regional sites into some of the UK’s leading digital news products. Having just relaunched our sites on a new website platform, it is the right time for me to hand over to that hugely talented team and seek a new challenge in 2017."

Despite growing its digital audience and seeing digital revenues grow 11% in the third quarter of 2016 compared to the same period last year, the publisher has struggled to offset declines in print, with its print ad revenue dropping 21% year-on-year in Q3 2016. Print circulation also slumped 6% during the quarter.

Total revenues fell by 9% in the third quarter, slightly more than the 8% drop reported in the first half of the year. As a consequence, the publisher boosted its cost savings to £20m this year, up £5m from the initial target.

Earlier this year the publisher launched and folded print-only paper The New Day. The title initially saw sales as high as 150,000 which slipped down to 40,000 just days after it was unveiled, and then closed two months after it first hit newsstands.

Eirik Svendsen, group chief technology officer for Trinity Mirror, said: "Chris has decided that this is the right time for him to step down, and I would like to thank him for his tremendous contribution to Trinity Mirror's digital transformation over the past three years. We wish Chris well in his future career."