Capital in commercial development drive

Capital Radio Group has appointed its first commercial development director as part of a drive to create new revenue streams beyond airtime advertising.

The director of national sales, Chris Bennett, has been appointed to the position and will start his new role on 28 April. Bennett, who has worked for the group for ten years, will be replaced, although a successor has yet to be named.

In an attempt to make itself more resistant to the effects of recession, the group will look to exploit further the success of recent extra-curricular ventures. These include the branded Capital Gold CDs, the music magazine X-Ray and Wildstar records, a joint venture with Telstar.

The group has also identified other possible revenue sources including the distribution and licensing of archive material, branded events, and the launch of new digital brands, such as last year's joint venture Capital Disney.

The strategy is the brainchild of Capital's commercial director, Linda Smith, and the chief executive, David Mansfield.

The move follows a turbulent 2002 for the group. Profits warnings and an autumn dip in share price were combined with disappointing audience figures for its flagship station 95.8 Capital FM. The group has also recently been identified as a possible takeover target, although Mansfield has repeatedly rubbished such speculation.

Smith said: "Capital has an enviable portfolio of brands and a growing number of distribution platforms. Our aim is to make these even more attractive to our customers, both trade and listeners. Chris' role will be to ensure that this happens."

Bennett added: "This is an important step for the Capital Group. The aim of the new role is to leverage the strength of the Capital brands across the UK. We aim to build commercial ventures with like-minded partners who can help monetise our relationship with consumers. Capital is never short of would-be partners: the challenge is about what, where and with whom we should play ball."