'Gardening leave' clause stops departing group editorial director Mike Soutar working for rival publishers
IPC group editorial director Mike Soutar — who presided over some of the company’s most successful launches during his six-year tenure — left the company this week.
Soutar launched the lads’ weekly Nuts in 2004 and the celebrity magazine Pick Me Up in 2005.
These helped to radically redefine the weekly magazines sector and proved that there was a place for both a men’s title and younger women’s real-life title in the sector.
Soutar was most recently involved in the £2.3 million revamp of Woman magazine.
Following his departure on Tuesday, the publisher released a statement saying: “After six years with the company, group editorial director Mike Soutar has decided it is time to leave IPC.
“In accordance with the terms of his contract, Mike is stepping down from the board and is taking gardening leave with immediate effect.” A spokesman for IPC said it would not be commenting on the reason for his departure.
The “gardening leave” stipulation means Soutar will be precluded from working for a rival publisher for a specified period of six months.
Soutar began his journalism career at DC Thomson in Scotland, where he wrote for Jackie magazine and other titles.
He joined Emap’s Smash Hits! as a staff writer in 1987, after working as a
PR for Virgin Records, beating the comedian Vic Reeves to the job. He became editor of Smash Hits! at the age of 23 in 1990.
He was made editor of FHM in 1994, after Emap bought the title, and brought the circulation up from 50,000 to 500,000 in less than three years.
He left to become managing director of London’s Kiss 100 radio station in 1997 and has also been creative director at Emap Radio.
He was editor-in-chief of Maxim in the US, presiding over a 126 per cent year-on-year increase in circulation sales from 1999-2000 as the title’s sales topped two million.
Soutar was managing director of IPC ignite!, which includes NME, Loaded and Uncut, for two and a half years before being made editorial director across the whole group in December 2002, where he was charged with generating ideas for new UK launches.
Soutar has won magazine of the year awards on both sides of the Atlantic.
Speculation is rife as to Soutar’s next move. One source suggested that he is planning a venture of his own, while another said it was “oddly coincidental” that IPC group creative director Andy Cowles was moving to Australia “for personal reasons” for the next six months.
Cowles, who has helped Soutar on the Woman relaunch, will continue to work for IPC while he is abroad, the publisher said.