Staff poaching fuels a shake-up for car mags

It’s all change: BBC Top Gear

There has been an outbreak of staff poaching in the car-magazine sector with the imminent launch of Dennis Publishing’s new motoring title, code named “Project Squirrel”.

In the latest moves, Emap’s Car magazine has poached BBC Top Gear’s editor-at-large, Jason Barlow, to become its editor. The move comes weeks after BBC Top Gear poached two of Car’s motoring journalists.

Back in October, Dennis lured away BBC Top Gear’s deputy editor, James Mills, and its motoring editor, Angus Fraser. “That kicked things off,” explained BBC Top Gear editor Michael Harvey.

Car’s road test editor, Tom Ford, is moving to BBC Magazines to become deputy editor and Paul Horrell, who was executive editor at Car, is joining BBC Top Gear as a consultant editor.

Barlow is a columnist on GQ magazine, and an editorial consultant at contract publishing house Cedar Communications. He has appeared on BBC2’s Wrong Car, Right Car and Top Gear, and Channel 4’s Driven.

Car’s deputy editor, Kieren Puffett, said: “Car is a breeding ground for fresh talent and that is why BBC Top Gear has poached our staff. But that talent will flow back and we already have large numbers of big names in the line up.

“Jason becoming editor will have huge benefits for us and as a big personality and character within the car industry, he will be a huge asset.”

Talking of the new appointments at BBC Top Gear, Harvey said: “Paul Horrell was thought of as the backbone of Car magazine and would almost certainly have become the editor there. Tom Ford is an upcoming but huge talent, so I think we have come out on top in all this.”

BBC Top Gear publisher Adam Waddell added: “If ever Roman Abramovitch wanted to launch a car mag, he’d want a team like ours.”

“Together with the recent resignation of the Autocar’s editor and new appointments at WhatCar?, the sector has seen the biggest shake-up since the launches of BBC Top Gear and Emap’s now defunct Car Week in 1993.”

Barlow takes up his new post on 31 August.

By Sarah Lagan

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