Fairfax Media has announced some big changes to the structure of its operations—and to its executive leadership team, with Fairfax New Zealand chief executive Allen Williams heading to Australia to become managing director of the newly formed Australian Publishing Media division (APM).
Andrew Boyle, general manager of the southern region of Fairfax New Zealand, has been appointed acting general manager while a permanent replacement is finalised.
The changes involve a simplification of the Australian organisational structure into five different divisions to, as a release says, "drive revenues and efficiencies in the Australian publishing businesses and unlock the potential of Fairfax’s digital businesses". But Nicola Igusa, Fairfax comms and marketing manager says "at this stage it doesn't mean anything for the New Zealand business aside from a change at the top".
She says there will also be increased collaboration between business units in the future, but at this stage there's nothing officially planned.
New Zealand is a separate business unit of Fairfax and it will remain as such. But Igusa says that its smaller size means it has been better able to make some of the changes occurring in Australia. For example, she says it has had a national sales director for four or five years; editorially, it moved to subbing hubs long before Australia; and, while there were big staff cuts last year in Australia, the New Zealand arm had already made many of those tough decisions, as evidenced by a $7.1 million bill for restructuring and redundancy charges in 2011 compared to $70,000 last year.
Williams has run Fairfax New Zealand since 2009, and prior to that led a number of Fairfax’s operations across rural, regional and metropolitan markets in Australia and the United States.
Boyle has worked at The Press in NZ as general manager of the southern region since 2008, and prior to that held general management positions at Fairfax in Waikato and at APN-owned Hawkes Bay Today. He has a strong sales and marketing background, and has worked in tourism and media companies internationally, including at Tourism NZ, NZ TAB and Independent Newspapers Ltd.
"Allen has been an outstanding leader of the New Zealand business and our new APM division will benefit from his tremendous skills and experience," says Fairfax Media chief executive and managing director, Greg Hywood. "Allen is leaving the New Zealand business in good shape, and it will be in good hands with Andrew Boyle. Andrew immediately steps into a senior leadership role within Fairfax Media, reporting to me."
In last year's financial report, Fairfax Media "wrote down the value of its New Zealand mastheads by A$608 million (NZ$782m) as part of a group-wide A$2.8 billion write-down of the trans-Tasman company's book value", according to Stuff.
"While Fairfax's New Zealand media segment's revenue result was in line with the overall decline of six percent, the margin on earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) was only down one percent. Ebitda itself was down 9.9 percent in New Zealand from $58.5m to $52.7m, while Fairfax's overall Ebitda was down 17 percent on last year to $506m."
APM—which, slightly confusingly, is just one letter away from its main competitor, APN—incorporates The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and other businesses previously contained within Metro Media, the Financial Review Group, Fairfax Regional Media, Agricultural Media and FCN NSW. The other divisions will be Domain, Digital Ventures and the unchanged Fairfax Radio and Fairfax New Zealand.
Fairfax Metro chief executive Jack Matthews and Fairfax regional media’s chief executive Allan Browne have departed the company.
“The formation of Australian Publishing Media will simplify the way that we do business," Hywood says. "We have already integrated our print and digital activities in the Metro division, making us a genuine multiplatform media company."
Correction: a previous version of this article stated Boyle is the acting managing director, when he is actually the acting general manager.