MEDIA: HEADLINER - Impatient Emap chief aims to reshape the media package/Kevin Hand has big hopes for his radical restructure plan, Anna Griffiths writes

When Kevin Hand, chief executive of Emap, recently took up golf his instructor told him that he was ’temperamentally unsuited’ to the sport. But Hand, who admits to being impatient, was undeterred by such words. In fact, they made him even more determined to excel at the sport.

When Kevin Hand, chief executive of Emap, recently took up golf his

instructor told him that he was ’temperamentally unsuited’ to the sport.

But Hand, who admits to being impatient, was undeterred by such words.

In fact, they made him even more determined to excel at the sport.



That is typical of Hand. When he wants to do something he will stick at

it until he has proved that he can do it. He couldn’t speak French when

in 1994 he was assigned by David Arculus, then managing director of

Emap, to head the company’s French magazine division, Groupe Emap.



But within a short while he was fluent in the language, a keen

francophile and had built the company into a highly profitable

business.



His secret: never take for granted what you’ve got, and don’t feel too

sure of yourself. ’Stupid people don’t worry,’ Hand declares. ’You

should always be wondering whether you are up to the task.’ Happily for

him, although he constantly worries about what he’s doing, he doesn’t

seem to have had much to fret about.



Robin Miller, the non-executive chairman of Emap Group, spotted Hand’s

potential when he was marketing director at the publishing company, Link

House, in the early 80s. He recollects: ’We were having dinner in the

Guildhall and it was rather dull. I saw across the table a rather perky

young man who didn’t seem short of an opinion. I was impressed from the

moment I met him because he was a particularly sharp man with a view,

who was old enough to have a good conversation with.’



Hand had always admired Emap from afar and, shortly after rescuing

Miller from that tedious dinner, was brought into Emap as circulation

director. Sixteen years on, Hand hasn’t looked back. Since his

appointment as chief executive last July, following a long and rather

acrimonious boardroom dispute, Hand has driven Emap along and last week

restructured the company to face the changing media environment.



He has reorganised the company into four divisions which have the

potential to offer advertisers a complete package stretching across

Emap’s magazines, radio, TV and websites (Campaign, 19 November). These

changes have met with City approval. Lorna Tilbian, a media analyst at

West LB Panmure, states: ’I think it’s a brilliant idea because the only

way to harness property is to do the root and branch approach.’



Hand realises that not all advertisers will demand a cross-media

advertising package, but for those bigger clients it is a valuable

proposition. ’We are talking about 25 to 35 clients for whom we would be

looking to do cross-media deals. But people are looking for different

solutions to the marketing problems they’re addressing. With our

portfolio of radio stations and magazines we have something no-one else

has in the UK.’



Hand is keen to build up Emap’s presence overseas and last week

announced that the company would launch the lads’ magazine FHM in the US

next year, which, he hoped, would be followed by other titles, such as

Q. He is also in talks to licence FHM further afield, in countries such

as in India.



But Hand’s foreign manoeuvres have not been without criticism. The

pounds 720 million paid for the US specialist publishing company,

Petersen, at the beginning of the year was seen as an overgenerous sum,

but Hand is confident that he did the right thing. ’The further on you

get the more people will look at the Emap-Petersen deal and see it as a

big success. People should be talking less about price and more about

opportunity.’



Although Hand is not one to hide his light under a bushel, he insists

that he is a driver of ideas, rather than an initiator of them. He

reflects: ’Early on in my career at Emap I would talk with people like

Mark Ellen and David Hepworth and they would come up with something so

much better than me.’ His art degree from Leicester College of Art may

have helped him appreciate good design, but he admits that his stint

there wasn’t a golden age: ’I was the worst in my year and they

encouraged me to get out of it.’



Hand’s Achilles’ heel is his blind love for a football club. Miller

states: ’His only weakness is that he’s a supporter of Leicester City.’

Such dedication, however, is also a strength, according to Miller. ’He’s

remained as loyal to Leicester City, as he has to his long-standing

friends. Kevin never forgets where his roots are.’



Hand may be abrupt at times but he can also be down to earth, letting

his hair down once in a while. One media head describes Hand’s prowess

on the dance floor: ’He dances like he’s doing something to

somebody.’



At 48 years old, Hand, it seems is an FHM reader in spirit, if not in

body.



THE HAND FILE

1973

Link House, management trainee

1974

National Association of Boys Clubs, information officer

1978

Link House, marketing director

1983

Emap, circulation director

1994

Groupe Emap (France), managing director

1998

Emap, chief executive



Topics