Archant chief executive John Fry looks set to be the new chief executive of Johnston Press following Tim Bowdler’s retirement next May.
Both the Sunday Times and FT have named Fry as Bowdler’s successor – according to the FT, Johnston Press is this week finalising contractual negotations with Fry.
Johnston Press is the UK’s second biggest regional newspaper company, behind Trinity Mirror, and its chief executive is one of highest paid jobs in UK regional newspapers.
In 2007, Bowdler was paid more than £1 million – a basic salary of £566,000 plus a performance-related bonus of £516,000 and taxable benefits of £16,000.
Johnston Press publishes 294 titles – with a combined weekly circulation of 9,092,442.
Archant has 64 titles with a combined total weekly circulation of 2,456,984.
Whereas Johnston Press is publicly listed, Archant is privately owned.
Fry, 51, has been in charge of Archant since 2002. He previously ran an international banking software business for Misys.
In its interim results for the first half of this year Johnston Press reported half-year profits down 15.6 per cent year-on-year to £81.6 million on revenue down 6.3 per cent to £293.1 million.
Johnston Press’s operating profit margin – which in recent years has been the highest in the industry – dropped year-on-year from 30.9 per cent to 27.9 per cent.
Archant also suffered a profit dip in the first half of this year.
Total turnover for the six months was £93.6m (down from £98.5m a year ago) and profit before exceptional items was £13.1m (down from £14.5m).