When speaking to Campaign four months ago, Kevin Hand was bullish
about his prospects at Emap. He said: "My aim is to out-perform the
market we are in and to make Emap even more of a multimedia group."
Last week, Hand resigned from his role as chief executive at Emap to be
replaced by Robin Miller, Emap's chairman. Hand managed to outperform
the market in one sense, however - he walked away with a year's salary,
rumoured to be more than pounds 400,000, and pounds 1.5 million in share
Rightly or wrongly, Hand carried the can for the purchase of the
American publisher Petersen in 1999. Emap has had to write off a pounds
545 million drop in the value of Petersen as the publisher of titles
including Guns & Ammo failed to fire following a downturn in US
Critics of Emap also suggest that several other factors contributed to
Hand's downfall. Most obviously, the dire performance of Emap
Advertising in the first half of 2000, and investment in Emap Digital,
despite a downturn in the sector.
Following the management shake-up last week, Miller made it clear that
he believed buying Petersen was a mistake. He said: "We overpaid for the
US business and it did not deliver what we had anticipated."
Miller's straight talking and openness is typical of his approach, say
those that know him. Tim Brooks, the managing director of IPC Southbank
and a former Emap manager, says: "Robin is very trusting. The first time
I ever met him I was a journalist writing a profile interview. Not only
did he give an open interview but he was called out of his office and
left me alone in there for 25 minutes."
Miller himself started his career as a journalist. His reputation as a
petrol-head - he edited Motor Cycle News and still has a passion for
bikes - was superseded by his increasing profile as a publisher at Emap
during the 70s.
His move from chairman to chief executive is his second stint in the
role. He became the chief executive of Emap in 1985 and remained in the
post until 1998 when, after much manoeuvering, he landed the chairman's
job. Miller says that after three years as chairman he is now
"refreshed" and ready to return to the day-to-day running of the
However, some observers claim that Miller's move from chairman to chief
executive is not as happy a picture as Emap has painted. One industry
source says: "Robin was very keen to be chairman and this contributed to
a huge boardroom split in 1997. I'd have thought it would be a
significant blow to him to be made chief executive."
Now 60, Miller has committed to two years in the role, prompting City
comments that he is a "safe pair of hands", guiding things along until
one of Emap's rising stars, likely to be Tom Moloney (who recently
returned from a stint in the US and is now the chief operating officer),
is ready to take over.
Even Miller's rivals concede that he still has a role to play. David
Arculus, the chairman of IPC Media and a former Emap colleague of
Miller's, says: "Robin is a talented, gritty guy and obviously played a
part in building Emap into a successful company."
Miller has promised to focus on core UK business to such an extent that
Emap will close the gap on IPC's UK market leadership. Media experts are
clear on what he needs to do to achieve this: concentrate on Emap's
success stories, the likes of FHM, Heat and key music titles, while
hiving off the underperforming titles.
Sorting out the wheat from the chaff is just one of Miller's pressing
concerns. He must also decide what to do with Emap Advertising and Emap
Emap Advertising, the sales forced integrated across digital, radio and
magazines at Hand's behest, had a poor start. Sales for the first half
of 2000 were down by 3 per cent against buoyant market conditions.
However, Emap Advertising stresses that things are moving in the right
direction with revenues up 7 per cent in the final quarter of 2000.
Media agencies are divided on Emap Advertising. One press director says:
"Radio sales have been an enormous success but press is a disaster.
There is no continuity of service across their titles and my staff are
bored of it."
However, the head of press at another agency thinks that Emap
Advertising has turned the corner and increased service levels. Tom
Toumazis, the managing director of Emap Advertising and a close ally of
Hand, will clearly hope so or there may be swift action.
As well as his being personable and trustworthy, Brooks points to
Miller's "interrogative and probing" style of management, which should
see Emap through in the short term. Admittedly, it has reduced its
horizons, focusing on chasing IPC rather than overseas expansion, but
Miller might just be at home in this head-to-head scenario.
THE MILLER FILE
1970: Emap, editor, Motor Cycle News
1974: Emap, managing director of magazine division
1985: Emap, chief executive
1998: Emap, chairman
2000: Emap, chief executive