Hart departs Associated

Managing director of newspaper group's digital arm leaves ahead of restructure.

Andy Hart, the managing director of Associated Northcliffe Digital, has left the company without a job to go to ahead of a restructure of the business.

Hart has run the newspaper group's digital operations for the past six years and had worked with the newspaper divisions of Associated Newspapers and the regional publisher Northcliffe Media on developing their online products. He also launched and acquired a series of websites in the property and car sectors.

Hart led an aggressive acquisition strategy for AND that included spending £46.5 million on the dating website company Allegran and £18.5 million on findaproperty.com and buying several car sites including carsource.co.uk.

However, AND has recently had to close one of its most prominent web properties, the price-comparison site SimplySwitch. The site shut in February, 18 months after AND paid £22 million for the business. Hart said at the time that this was due to a downturn in demand for price comparison in the energy market.

Analysts have also suggested that revenues from AND's property sites have been under pressure due to difficulties in the housing market. In addition, Associated's newspaper titles have taken on greater levels of responsibility for their own online products.

An Associated statement said that Hart was leaving ahead of "some organisational changes, as a result of which Andy and the company have mutually agreed to part company".