Tuesday 24 April 2018

'Sunday Business Post' managing director quits in surprise move

Paul Cooke: sold shares to 'move on to new challenges' Photo: Fennells
Paul Cooke: sold shares to 'move on to new challenges' Photo: Fennells

Gavin McLoughlin and Donal O'Donovan

The 'Sunday Business Post' has announced the surprise departure of its managing director, Paul Cooke. It is the latest in a series of high-profile exits from the newspaper, which has also lost its deputy editor Pat Leahy and magazine editor Fiona Ness in recent months.

The paper was saved from insolvency three years ago in a rescue deal and lost a number of senior figures, including its long-time editor Cliff Taylor.

In a statement, Mr Cooke said he had sold his stake in the company behind the newspaper to fellow shareholders Key Capital, and was now "moving on to new challenges".

He added: "I believe we have achieved more with the paper in the past three years than anyone would have thought possible. I look forward to its continued growth and success for years to come.

"Ireland needs a strong, independent media and the turnaround at the 'Sunday Business Post' should encourage everyone in the industry."

The loss of the media industry veteran leaves the newspaper with a relatively young senior management team to face unprecedented challenges including declining circulation, volatile advertising revenue, online disruption and industry consolidation.

It recorded a circulation of 32,162 in the period from July to December 2015, a decline of 3.2pc on the same period in 2014, and made a modest profit of €78,801 last year.

Mr Cooke's departure comes shortly after the paper's political editor Pat Leahy defected to the 'Irish Times'.

The company behind the paper is merging with printing firm Webprint. Conor Killeen's Key Capital is the majority owner of both businesses and believes they will be stronger as a combined entity.

Mr Killeen said the priority for the new entity was development and growth and that this would require introducing new digital offerings and developing the 'Sunday Business Post' in areas, including conferencing.

He added: "We also believe a significant opportunity exists to provide value added production and pre-press services to Webprint's clients building on existing core competencies in the 'Sunday Business Post'."

Irish Independent

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