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March 21, 2024

New Fortune executive editor on major Europe expansion for business brand

The business newsbrand has hired a new leadership and reporting team to build its presence outside the US.

By Charlotte Tobitt

Fortune is massively expanding in UK and Europe with the aim of being an “entirely new editorial voice in the region” championing big businesses.

The growth plans come after three straight years of profits overall at Fortune from 2021 to 2023. Former chief executive Alan Murray teased upcoming international expansion and investment as he stepped down in October.

The business brand is looking to make the most of revenue opportunities in areas including events, rankings (like its best-known Fortune 500) and high-value partnerships as well as from the magazine itself.

Alex Wood Morton, formerly managing director for Europe at Forbes, has been appointed executive editor for Europe.

He told Press Gazette he has been “given the freedom to truly make something relevant and different for the market here” in both print and digital where previously the business newsbrand had only a small staff in London led from the US.

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Wood Morton predicted that by the end of 2024 the team in Berlin, Geneva, Madrid and Paris will be between 30 and 35 people across editorial and commercial.

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Until now Fortune has had a European print edition but it has been largely the same as in the US. Wood Morton said it will now have different covers and much more exclusive content.

As well as newsstand sales it is also increasing its free distribution to be in most airport business class lounges in London Heathrow, Zurich, Milan and Paris, and the Eurostar lounges between London and Paris.

The magazine had a digital circulation of 138,842 in the first half of 2023 plus a further 47,172 subscribers coming from Apple News+.

In Europe, Press Gazette understands that new digital subscriptions were up 28% year-on-year in 2023 with the UK up 30% and Germany and France both up 25%.

Online, Press Gazette analysis of Ipsos iris data put Fortune as the 13th biggest online business newsbrand in the UK in May last year. It had an audience of 515,700 compared to Forbes, Wood Morton’s former employer, on 3.4 million.

Wood Morton said he had “a feeling we’re going to be in a very different position” next time Press Gazette crunches the data.

Referring to traffic to Fortune.com from readers in Europe, Wood Morton said February was its “second highest traffic in history, second only to the month when Fortune Europe was launched for the first time in November”.

He added that in March they are on track to grow month-on-month by 44% “which will take us to our highest traffic ever, roughly double the average of last year. So we’re growing at quite a pace”. Press Gazette understands 2023 page views were also up 44% year-on-year.

Wood Morton, himself a former entrepreneur who created future trends magazine The Memo and sold it to Forbes in 2018, acknowledged it is a “competitive market” for business media in the UK and Europe.

But he felt that “the business media, particularly in the UK but also across Europe, loves to kick people down”.

He added: “I’m not here to do anyone’s puff piece and I’m not here to not hold people to account. But I think there is a real gap in the market, particularly in the UK, for someone who is actually truly saying ‘this is what great business looks like and this is what we should aspire to’ and not spending all the time doing hit jobs.”

As well as Wood Morton, Fortune has appointed Grethe Schepers as list director, Europe, to lead the expansion of the brand’s lists. She was previously director of research for Fidelity International in London.

The first Fortune 500 Europe list was launched in November, ranking the biggest Europe-based companies by revenue. The London-based research team will now produce several new lists including Best Places to Work in Europe.

Irena Raltcheva, who previously led EMEA and enterprise partnerships at The Drum, has joined Fortune as its commercial director for Europe leading its growing sales team and expanding its client base across digital and print advertising, custom content and conference sponsorships.

Geneva-based Peter Vanham has been appointed editorial director, leadership, for Fortune Europe to spearhead its CEO and leadership coverage and develop a community of business leaders across the region, including through intimate C-suite events. He first joined Fortune in August 2022 and writes its CEO Weekly Europe newsletter, which launched in late 2023 and will be followed by more launches.

Other live events include the inaugural Brainstorm AI London conference being held in April which already has sponsorship from the likes of Accenture and Builder.ai.

The new leadership team will work with Jim Jacovides, managing director for Europe.

Fortune Europe leadership team
Fortune Europe leadership team L-R: Grethe Schepers (list director, Europe), Alex Wood Morton (executive editor), Irena Raltcheva (commercial director, Europe) and Jim Jacovides (managing director, Europe). Picture: GingerShotLDN

New journalist hires will join Fortune’s existing London-based team of senior news editor for Europe Massimo Marioni, AI editor Jeremy Kahn, commentary editor Mohamed El Aassar and reporters focused on themes including leadership, sustainability and tech.

Wood Morton told Press Gazette: “It’s not just adding a couple of people – it’s a proper fleshing out of the newsroom.”

He said the editorial focus will be on “critical trends including AI, hybrid working and sustainability, and how they impact Fortune 500 Europe companies and beyond”.

Asked what is a Fortune story, and what will make it different from its competitors, Wood Morton cited the example of Bernard Arnault, the chairman and CEO of luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton and one of the richest men in the world.

“Many people are obviously looking at him and what he’s doing but actually where I’m seeing the interesting stories are his children,” he said, citing the senior positions given by Arnault to his five children including 30-year-old Alexandre, an executive vice president at Tiffany & Co and former Rimowa chief executive, and 28-year-old Frédéric, chief executive of LVMH Watches.

Of Alexandre, Wood Morton said: “He is of our generation, he’s digitally minded and he’s looking at, like, how can we use NFTs with luxury? How can I partner with Supreme with Rimowa suitcases? I think it’s really interesting when you look, particularly in Europe, we’ve got so many amazing brands and we’ve got so much history, but how those brands are kind of reinventing themselves. I think that really speaks to kind of what we’re trying to do at Fortune.”

Wood Morton praised Alyson Shontell, the US-based editor-in-chief and chief content officer who leads a newsroom of around 100 people.

“Alyson, I think, is an incredible leader in media and it’s a real privilege to be working with her because she is digitally native and I haven’t worked with many editorial leaders, believe it or not, in my career who actually really get it,” he said.

“And also she’s just smart. She recognises that business is changing and that’s something that I am unashamedly trying to do with Fortune in Europe.”

He added: “I’m just so proud and excited to be somewhere that is growing, but also somewhere that has a real sense of purpose.

“Alyson always talks about making business better as one of our taglines and I really align with that and I really support that and I think as I get older and more senior I want to use platforms like this to really champion that.”

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
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  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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