MacKenzie hires former NME man to revive Front

By Alyson
Fixter Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, the chief executive of
ailing Highbury House, has hired a former publisher of NME and Uncut to
rescue lads’ mag Front.

MacKenzie, who became CEO and chairman at
the company in September after buying nearly a third of its shares, has
brought in Rich Coles to become publishing director of the men’s title
and its sister film title Hotdog.

Coles is currently commercial
director of Greenways Media, where he has just overseen the launch of
football title The League Paper.

Prior to his stint at Greenways
he was publisher of music weekly NME and music and film title Uncut at
IPC, and was credited with helping to make Uncut market leader.

MacKenzie said it was a “miracle”

that Front and Hotdog had survived the year, but added that the company had faith in the titles.

“I
very much look forward to Rich’s leadership and talent adding value to
these magazines, as well as further ambitions we have in this area,” he
said.

Coles said: “I’m delighted to be joining Kelvin and the Highbury House team.

“There
is an enormous opportunity to improve and grow Front and Hotdog for
both readers and advertisers after a period of uncertainty.”

Front’s
circulation fell to 88,154 in August’s ABC figures, down more than 12
per cent year-on-year Hotdog did not post an ABC, although it was
selling just 15,026 copies a month in February, from a high of nearly
40,000 in 2000.

MacKenzie’s swoop on Highbury has led to a major
reshuffle at the publisher, with the departure of chief executive Mark
Simpson, swiftly followed by chief operating officer Mike Frey.

Other
senior staff to go over the summer include David Nizol, the original
chief operating officer, and group finance director Owen Davies.

In
September, the group’s interim results revealed that revenues were down
28.6 per cent to £39.6m, but net debt had been reduced to £27.3m,
compared to £62.6m in January.

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