Media: Lifeline - Financial Times

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 11 November 2005 12:00AM

The paper's editor has quit amid rumours management refused to back his domestic strategy.

1991: As Richard Lambert is appointed editor of the Financial Times to succeed Sir Geoffrey Owen, the focus for growth is now clearly outside the paper's home market. In UK, circulation is around 200,000 but, with The Wall Street Journal gaining ground in Europe, the FT needs to raise its game on the continent - and even take the fight to New York. Unfortunately, in the wake of the first Gulf War, recession looms.

1995: The FT launches a US edition to complement its UK and continental European editions. It soon becomes America's fastest-growing non-US newspaper, reaching a circulation of 125,000 in 2002. But profitability is still dependent on UK market performance - and, with the economy relatively weak, revenues continue to falter.

2001: Andrew Gowers (pictured), an FT veteran, is handed the editorship. For Gowers, the timing is miserable. Not only has the dotcom bubble burst, but the year brings corporate scandals in the US, which further depress business confidence, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

2003: As the recession bites, the paper slumps into the red for the first time. Gowers has been charged with increasing the sales of its international editions but is faced with urgent problems closer to home. Domestic circulation is falling (and will slip as low as 140,000 in 2005) and worse, many feel the FT has lost its authority in the City. Mainstream dailies pile on the pressure too, with improved business coverage.

2005: Gowers departs, citing strategic differences with management at Pearson. Pearson's chief executive, Marjorie Scardino (pictured), praises him for extending the FT's international reach.The US managing editor, Lionel Barber, becomes the UK editor.

Fast forward ...

2008: The FT finally achieves its aim - a coherent brand available across all the major world financial markets. But it isn't the print version, it's the online brand, FT.com. In the major trading capitals around the world, the print version is now a locally produced freesheet designed principally to market the website. Rumours of a merger between FT.com and WSJ.com gain ground.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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