Bowdler's pay hike as Johnston Press invests in new media

The Johnston Press annual report has revealed that the pay of chief executive Tim Bowdler went up from £622,000 to £800,000 in 2006.

He told Press Gazette that the increase reflected changes in the way the company bonus scheme is worked out, as well as his success in implementing the group’s digital strategy.

The report also revealed a planned investment of £5 million in internet projects across the group.

The annual report follows the announcement earlier this month that operating profits were up four per cent to £188.8 million on turnover up 16 per cent to £602.2m. Profit before tax and non recurring items was down six per cent to £147 million, which chairman Roger Parry put down to a “downturn in the advertising cycle”.

Johnston’s bonus salary scheme was modified from 1 January 2006 to increase the size of bonuses available to make it “more comparable with companies of a similar size, but with tougher targets”. Key performance indicators were also introduced last year in place of the profit and total revenue-based bonuses which had applied in 2005.

These changes, along with the the acquisition of Archant’s eight Scottish titles, helped push Bowdler’s bonus up from £113,000 to £236,000.

Bowdler said: “In part the increase is a reflection of the change in the overall bonus arrangements.

“The key performance indicators were related to a number of factors that the remuneration committee and the board regarded as being particularly important,” he added. “They were associated with the development of our digital publishing activities and also related to things like the successful acquisitions which we made in 2005 and the beginning of 2006. If you couple all those things together you get the figure which is reported.”

Executive directors Stuart Paterson and Danny Cammiade respectively earned £505,000 (compared with £370,000 the year before) and £455,000 (compared with £370,000 previously).

Non-executive director Les Hinton (chairman of News International), who was appointed in March 2005, received £35,000.

Bowdler said the company had put aside £5m for investment in three key areas: • The number of staff employed at Peterborough will increase from 38 to 52. This will include a head of digital editorial content plus web developers, web designers and IT experts.

• A London sales team, which will be in place by the end of this month, selling web only jobs.

• Marketing budget to promote some aspects of Johnston’s website.

The report said that in light of the abandoned sale by the Daily Mail and General Trust of its Northcliffe regional newspapers division, the impending sale of many Trinity Mirror regional stables opened opportunities for further consolidation of the regional press.

Bowdler said: “We have consistently stated our view that industry consolidation is set to continue and the shape of the UK’s regional press should not be regarded as being in its final form.”

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