HEADLINER: Congenial editor wins critical acclaim for Sunday Business - But Jeff Randall must also attract more readers and revenue

The dark glasses are plonked firmly on his sleep-deprived face and his demeanour is distinctly delicate as we make our way towards lunch and a couple of Bloody Marys. But the editor of Sunday Business has had much cause for celebration. Despite the predictions of failure, the pink Sunday was last week named Sunday Newspaper of the Year and won the prestigious Wincott Award for Financial Journal of the Year at the UK newspaper awards.

The dark glasses are plonked firmly on his sleep-deprived face and

his demeanour is distinctly delicate as we make our way towards lunch

and a couple of Bloody Marys. But the editor of Sunday Business has had

much cause for celebration. Despite the predictions of failure, the pink

Sunday was last week named Sunday Newspaper of the Year and won the

prestigious Wincott Award for Financial Journal of the Year at the UK

newspaper awards.



At just 14 months old, the relaunched Sunday broadsheet has found

critical acclaim. Although retailers such as Tesco initially balked at

stocking it, Sunday Business has prised open the doors of the

influential and powerful and proved that it can scoop its rivals.



The only problem still facing the newspaper is the question mark over

its commercial success, with its modest circulation of 55,123 (ABC audit

figure for March). Jeff Randall admits: ’Of course I’d like circulation

to be higher,’ but is confident that the newspaper is on target to hit

the break-even point of around 80,000 sales. He is at pains to point out

that the Barclay brothers, the newspaper’s proprietors, have given the

newspaper three years to prove itself.



Sunday Business, targeted at decision makers in industry, is anxious to

reach into the next layer of readers. Randall explains: ’One of my

problems is that we need to get below AB readers. There are only so many

out there. Of course we would look to sink into the ’marzipan

management’ - we won’t have to trade down but make them aware that their

bosses are reading it.’



Sunday Business is set to expand its European presence following a

successful test last summer in the South of France and southern Spain

In February, distribution was expanded to the competitive Scottish

Sunday market. Despite initially disappointing results, Randall is

convinced that sales can be increased and is going to Scotland this week

to drum up support.



Randall’s powers of persuasion should not be underestimated. This

affable man, who thankfully does not match preconceptions of a dry City

type, persuaded 50 journalists from established titles such as The

Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph to leave

secure jobs to work for a start-up. Rufus Olins, the editor of

Management Today, who worked under Randall at The Sunday Times, says:

’He’s one of the few people in the business with natural charisma and

he’s excellent in building teams.’



In its early days Randall admits that the newspaper adopted a safe and

rather dull approach to news. ’I felt that the only way to overcome it

(scepticism) was not to give the opposition any ammunition

whatsoever.



We aren’t in the making up stories business - if you have a very good

hunch, and you are 90 per cent sure you could take a punt. In the early

days I wouldn’t have done that.’ Now that the newspaper has proved

itself, it can afford a more aggressive approach. ’We do want to have an

attitude, and not say ’on the one hand, but on the other’. We want to

have a view and write with a passion,’ says Randall, puffing on his

post-lunch cigar.



After many years as a reporter and then as the editor of The Sunday

Times’s City and business news, Randall has impeccable contacts. When he

decided, at 40, to throw in the towel and join the City PR company,

Financial Dynamics, as deputy chairman, it was his old boss, Rupert

Murdoch, who rang Randall and lured him back to The Sunday Times with

the sports editor’s job. And two weeks ago Murdoch decided to give

Randall an exclusive interview following BSkyB’s aborted bid for

Manchester United. Nick Miles, chief executive of Financial Dynamics,

proclaims: ’Jeff’s a person who is capable of doing anything he can put

his mind to, apart from being an astronaut or a world class golfer.’



The Sunday Business relaunch has taken its toll on a grey-haired

Randall.



’Looking back it was the most stressful period I had, and I came out

with a great big stress rash on my leg. I could only think up all the

problems that would happen. It threatens to overwhelm you.’ So would he

do it all again? The answer is quick and definitive: ’I would never

launch a newspaper again. There is no money that would make me, and

under no circumstances would I do it. You only get this lucky once.’



Randall plans to complete a three-year term at Sunday Business before

moving on. ’I don’t think I will stay beyond that. So many products are

ruined because those who have invented them can’t bear them to grow

up.’



THE RANDALL FILE

1985

Financial Weekly, assistant editor

1986

The Sunday Telegraph, City correspondent

1988

The Sunday Times, deputy City editor, rising to City and business editor

1994

Times Newspapers, director

1995

Financial Dynamics, deputy chairman

1996

The Sunday Times, assistant editor and sports editor

1997

Sunday Business, editor



Topics

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).