Directors carry can Trinity Mirror nationals' sales slump

Haysom (above) has departed, leaving Bailey to face some tough decisions

The buck for Trinity Mirror national newspapers’ strategy over the past year, which has seen big sales falls on all five titles, has stopped at management level. Editors seem to have escaped blame.

Last week the company announced that two of its directors were going. Mark Haysom, managing director of its national newspapers, left and resigned his directorship immediately. Richard Wyatt, director of corporate development, will leave by the end of this month.

For the foreseeable future, said the company, the nationals’ management team will report directly to new chief executive Sly Bailey, and that includes editors Piers Morgan of the Daily Mirror, Tina Weaver (Sunday Mirror), newly appointed Mark Thomas (The People), Peter Cox (Daily Record) and Allan Rennie (Sunday Mail).

This week’s ABC figures for March show the Daily Mirror dropping by 2.17 per cent month-on-month, to below 2 million for the first time, the Sunday Mirror at 1.6 million (-5.22 per cent), The People at 1.1 million (-3.09 per cent), the Daily Record at 517,248 (-0.13 per cent) and the Sunday Mail at 621,956 (-1.77 per cent).

The blame could be laid at the door of individual editors, and often has been in similar situations before. But Bailey appears to have decided that the talent base for editors at Trinity Mirror is as good as anywhere else and it is the commercial strategy that is wanting.

The papers are facing some of their toughest times of the past 10 years in terms of competition. The company does not have millionaire owners like News International, Associated and the Express titles.

Bailey, and whoever gets Haysom’s job, has to work out how to outplay more aggressive and better-resourced businesses. While the industry sees the Daily Mirror as strong editorially and it has been packing in the awards, it is suffering commercially because of a lack of firepower to compete with The Sun and the Daily Mail.

Bailey has proved she is a tough cookie, making difficult decisions soon after taking office. She knows the strategy for the papers has to change, and that she has to find a way of generating more money and a better way of spending it.

She has just confirmed Vijay Vaghela as group finance director, a post in which he has been acting since 1 July last year.

Vaghela, 36, qualified as a chartered accountant with Touche Ross before joining the Mirror Group as head of internal audit in August 1994. He became group treasurer and is now director of accounting and treasury.

He will be appointed as an executive director of the company immediately after the annual general meeting on 8 May.

Bailey said: “Vijay has a deep knowledge of the company and newspaper publishing. He is the principal architect of our current debt financing strategy and is well known to our main shareholders and bankers.”

Haysom, 49, worked for the company nearly 11 years, first in its regional business. He joined the Trinity Mirror board in 1998 and was appointed to managing director of national newspapers in 1999.

By Jean Morgan

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