New chief exec at struggling Future

Future is to scale back its expansion plans, and has replaced its chief executive with someone who has no publishing experience, after it announced pretax losses of £12.1 million in its interim results.

The Bath-based company, which specialises in gaming, technology and entertainment publications, blamed the performance for the six months ending 31 March primarily on a profits shortfall in its computer games titles. It reported pre-tax profit of £11.1 million for the same period last year.

It said lower expectations for 2006 plus “organic investment” in the existing business would mean a further drop in profits for 2007, below expectations.

On Tuesday — the day the results were announced — Greg Ingham stepped down as chief executive, to be replaced by Stevie Spring.

Spring was most recently chief executive of Clear Channel, the UK’s largest outdoor media company, for six years.

Future’s non-executive chairman, Roger Parry, is a former Clear Channel boss.

A Future spokesman said the timing was coincidental and that Ingrams had decided to leave after more than eight years with the company.

He said: “The timing is more to do with Future having found what the

board believe is a person who can take Future into the next stage of its development rather than relating to any specific results.” The company said losses were due to a number of factors, such as the downturn in consumer spending and people going online rather than buying magazines in certain interest areas. Future closed or sold 11 titles in the first half of this year.

The spokesman added: “The most significant factor affecting Future now is the computer games market, where Future is world leader, which is clearly a strength when that market is strong, but equally more of a weakness when the market is going through this transition from second-generation to third-generation consoles.

“The Sony PlayStation 3 has been delayed, Xbox hasn’t sold quite as quickly and as much as was initially anticipated, and that clearly has an impact on computer games magazines.

But it would be wrong of us to imply it’s solely the market. We have acknowledged a period of consolidation and operational focus is required.” Last year Future bought more than 50 titles, including 38 from Highbury House. The costs tipped it into a pretax loss of £8.9 million, against a profit of £7.2m in the previous year.

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