Beleagured Future shows new caution

The Future Network has introduced a "safer" management structure which is likely to impose tighter control on new magazine launches.

The move follows poor financial results and pre-tax losses of £59m. 

It will come as a blow to journalists in Bath who rely on Future for creating new jobs due to its speed of launching new titles.

Colin Morrison, deputy chief executive, has become chief operating officer with direct responsibility for the UK and European businesses and international licensing.

Ian Linkins, finance director since 1991, is stepping down to become group finance manager.

And Roger Parry, a non-executive director, has become deputy chairman, leaving Chris Anderson to focus on group strategy as non-executive chairman.

The group, which announced 20 closures and 350 redundancies earlier this year, was forced to issue two profit warnings after it discovered inflated revenues in its French division and was hit by a slump in advertising.

Morrison admitted it had been a "nightmare" but claimed Future was now over the worst. "We are definitely going to try and make sure the business is safer," he told Press Gazette.

Ingham also said the business was being rebased on a more conservative footing, with less being risked on new launches.

Morrison added: "Obviously it is a challenge to that entrepreneurial culture when you re-group managerially but we know our business survives on launching more than anything else we do."

He said there was no "big cull" planned for the UK business in terms of closures but admitted it was a "continuous wheel".

"This is not a company that will have endless nights of the long knives. Most of the big changes that we can ever envisage seeing in the UK business, we have seen," he said.

"It’s undeniable that it has been a nightmare. And when you have had a year like that you certainly hope you have taken the actions to make sure this is the end of it. We are fighting hard and doing our best to make sure it is all behind us."

Morrison said Future would fill vacant positions internally instead of recruiting new staff.

Future is likely to launch around four or five titles this year, he said. The biggest, X Box, is due next year. Business 2.0 is still under review.

Future predicted estimated losses of £3m in the first half of 2001 due to the magazine and website closures. Restructuring costs and redundancies will be around £5m.

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