Media Lifeline: Financial Times

Can the FT's redesign and new advertising campaign help it to keep pace with its rivals?

November 2005: Andrew Gowers, the editor since 2001, quits after strategic differences with senior management at Pearson, the Financial Times' parent. He is replaced by the US managing editor, Lionel Barber, who begins a reorganisation of the editorial team.

February 2006: As the newsroom shake-up continues (the deputy editor and joint news editors have been replaced, while other departures have included the design editor, Richard Addis), the Barber regime receives a welcome morale boost when it is revealed that the FT has returned to profitability after three years in the red - the darkest days having come in 2003 when it recorded a £32 million loss.

July 2006: And the upheaval continues with the appointment of a new executive team - in May, Rona Fairhead is made the chief executive of FT Group; and in June, John Ridding becomes the chief executive of the Financial Times and FT.com, reporting to Fairhead. As he joins, Ridding berates his staff for the general feeling of doom and gloom he perceives, but spirits don't exactly lift in July, when 50 editorial redundancies are announced.

September 2006: In March, having appointed a new editor, James Montgomery, at FT.com, the task had begun not just of revamping the paper's online brand, but of creating a fully integrated digital newsroom. The revamp gets off to a farcical start when managers, realising they've miscalculated, invite some of the sacked sub-editors to return. Meanwhile, the marketing department is preparing for a rebrand by dropping the "No FT, no comment" tagline.

April 2007: The FT relaunches, backed by an outdoor and TV ad campaign. The redesign aims to unlock what Barber calls the paper's "hidden treasures". It experiments with a half-page column devoted to business personalities- not one of its traditional strengths.

Fast forward: July 2007 As competition from City AM continues to bite (it now claims to be 50 per cent ahead of the full-price FT sale), the paper now gears up for the launch of FT Lite, an afternoon freesheet, which will focus even more on City personalities and their lunch dates. One of its biggest selling points is a front page investors' horoscope column, penned by the editor himself - Matthew Engel.

Topics