Red website a likely priority as Hachette joins digital race

Hachette Filipacchi UK has become the fourth major consumer publisher this year to announce appointments to a newly created digital publishing division, with a promise to expand and develop its magazines online in 2007.

The publisher of Elle, Red, Sugar and Psychologies follows IPC, Emap and Natmags in creating specialist divisions to deal with the demand for digital products, as companies attempt to grow brands in new directions. Dave Killeen has been appointed Hachette's director of digital, reporting directly to chairman Kevin Hand. Killeen will have responsibility for digital operations across the company's magazine portfolio, currently comprising eight titles.

He will also assume full responsibility for the recruitment of online staff across individual magazine titles. He will take up the new role in January.

Killeen joins Hachette from Associated Northcliffe Digital, where he was general manager of the Mail Online, overseeing all online business operations for dailymail.co.uk and mailonsunday.co.uk. He had been with Associated for six years.

Kat Vitou has also been appointed head of business development and operations at Hachette, and will report directly to Killeen. Vitou joins from Emap where she has been business development director and online publisher for two years.

Hachette already has websites for its major titles, but it is likely that Red — which has seen year-on-year growth over the last 10 ABCs and has a new editor in ex-Cosmopolitian editor Sam Baker — will be a priority for the company. A spokeswoman refused to confirm where its priorities lay, but confirmed that websites would begin to launch from January.

Kevin Hand, chairman of Hachette Filipacchi UK, said the digital expansion would be "a major thrust" for the company in 2007.

He said: "The web has never moved so fast and the barrier to innovation online has never been so low. The timing is just perfect for Hachette to fully embrace digital."

In June, IPC appointed Sarah Summers to the new role of digital publishing director for its portfolio of women's weeklies, and in October appointed former NME.com editor Anthony Thornton to the new post of editor-in-chief of Ignite! Digital.

Also last month, Natmags appointed the managing director of handbag.com, Nancy Cruickshank to the same role in its newly created digital division. Emap signed former Empire editor Colin Kennedy to become its new digital creative director in August, and one of its most high-profile titles, Heat, has confirmed plans to develop an online version, eight years after launch.

Condé Nast's interactive division is more than 10 years old. Vogue.com editor Dolly Jones won BSME online magazine editor of the year last week.

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