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Ex-Time Out chief exec joins Johnston Press as CFO

DAVID KING has been appointed as chief financial officer of Johnston Press as the newspaper publisher reported its first increase in operating profit for almost seven years.

The former Time Out Group chief executive will succeed Grant Murray at the media group, following Grant’s resignation as CFO.

During his four years at Time Out, King restructured and refinanced the business, returned it to profitability and sold a 50% equity interest to private equity. His experience will prove valuable to Johnston Press, which aims to reduce costs by over £20m this year.

The publisher, which owns The Scotsman newspaper, underwent a restructuring last year and was able to slash its cost base by almost £40m at the expense of more than 1,300 jobs. As a result, the company was able to cut full year pre-tax losses to £6.8m for 2012. It made a £144m loss in 2011 as the result of a write-down in the book value of its portfolio of titles.

The group did not put a figure to its profit for the 18 weeks to 4 May 2013, but said the successful re-launch of its 183 titles and digital strategy was paying off. Nevertheless, trading remains difficult as revenues declined 11.4% on a like-for-like basis.

Commenting on the results, Johnston Press’ CEO Ashley Highfield said: “For the first time in almost seven years we are in a position to report a year-on-year increase in operating profit for the period.

“While the economic environment continued to be challenging, the implementation of our strategy progressed further with the successful completion of the relaunch of the vast majority of our titles, together with the further development of our digital business and the rollout of new hardware and software to all sales staff and journalists.”

King, who assumes the post next month, spent the nine years prior to Time Out as CFO of BBC Worldwide, overseeing profits increasing to £100m on turnover growing from £354m to over £800m.

He qualified as a chartered accountant in 1984 before working for a Citibank/Storehouse joint venture and then subsequently joining Coopers & Lybrand in 1988 where he spent six years as a management consultant working with a number of FTSE 100 companies.

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