Joan Withers Appointed Ceo, Fairfax New Zealand
Joan Withers Appointed Ceo, Fairfax New Zealand
Don Churchill As Managing Director, Victoria; And James Hooke As Managing Director, New South Wales
SYDNEY, May 24, 2005 – John Fairfax Holdings Limited [ASX:FXJ] today announced the appointments of Joan Withers as the new CEO of Fairfax New Zealand, Don Churchill as the new Managing Director, Victoria, and James Hooke as the new Managing Director, New South Wales. Ms Withers will report to Fred Hilmer, CEO. Mr Churchill and Mr Hooke will report to Brian Evans, Chief Operating Officer, Australia.
Mr Fred Hilmer, CEO, Fairfax, said:
“Joan is exceptionally well-placed to lead our New Zealand business. For nearly a year, Joan has served on the company’s Board of Directors. Previously, she served on the Advisory Board established to help guide our investment in Fairfax New Zealand. Over the past 8 years, Joan has been a professional company director, serving on the boards of some of New Zealand’s leading companies. Prior to that, Joan was Chief Executive of The Radio Network of New Zealand after a career in both print and broadcasting in New Zealand.”
Ms Withers said, “Having seen at close quarters the superb job Brian Evans and his New Zealand team have done in making Fairfax’s acquisition in this country a major strategic and financial success, it is a privilege to be given the opportunity to lead the New Zealand business.”
Mr Hilmer said that Ms Withers will resign from the Fairfax Board and all but one of her other directorships and will join Fairfax New Zealand full time during July.
“In filling these critical positions, I am pleased we have promoted from within, drawing on exceptional individuals from our businesses in Australia and New Zealand,” Mr Hilmer said. “Joan has been a highly successful media executive and a valuable member of our Board. Don and James have strong track records in strengthening their businesses through innovation in publishing, revenue growth and tight cost management. Our publishing and commercial operations in New Zealand, Victoria and New South Wales are in the hands of three proven, able and dedicated media executives.”
Mr Evans said:
“I am delighted with the appointments of our new Managing Directors in Victoria and New South Wales. Over the past two years, I have worked very closely with Don Churchill following our acquisition of Fairfax New Zealand. As General Manager,
Fairfax Central Region and The Dominion Post, Don planned and implemented the merger of the two dailies forming The Dominion Post in 2001, which became the country's second biggest selling daily newspaper. He ultimately assumed overall responsibility for Fairfax's businesses in central New Zealand. He will make an exceptional contribution in directing our activities in Victoria.
“James Hooke assumed responsibility for Fairfax Regional and Community Newspapers when I was appointed CEO in New Zealand. James has done an outstanding job in continuing the group’s excellent operating performance. He directed the successful integration of Text Media following last year’s acquisition. He has overseen an expansion in FRCN’s publishing operations, with nearly a dozen new titles added to during his tenure.
“The Metropolitan, Regional and Community Newspaper group has over 60 mastheads in New South Wales and Victoria, and generates a substantial share of the company’s revenues and profits. With Don’s and James’ commitment to excellence and quality in journalism, and to superior business performance, I know we will work well together as a team, and that they will help lead the company forward in Victoria and New South Wales.”
Mr Churchill said, “"I am extremely pleased to be joining Fairfax's publishing interests in Victoria and look forward to driving its plans to refocus its efforts in the State. I am privileged to be associated with The Age, one of the country's great newspapers, and the many other fine titles and businesses. I look forward to working closely with the existing highly talented team, and to moving to this exciting city."
Mr Hooke said, ”I am delighted to be appointed to this role. For the past two years I have enjoyed working with the great team at Fairfax Regional and Community Newspapers. This team has achieved some wonderful goals during this time – ranging from a Walkley Award for investigative journalism at The Illawarra Mercury to the launch of more than 10 new suburban titles.
“I grew up with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald – they are excellent newspapers which set the news agenda in Sydney and across NSW. I look forward to working closely with the excellent staff at these papers as well as to continuing my relationships with the great staff within FRCN NSW.”
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Ms Withers, a New Zealand resident, has contributed to the growth of Fairfax New Zealand as a member of the Advisory Council of prominent New Zealanders that
provide advice and strategic counsel to Fairfax New Zealand and its business activities. She joined the John Fairfax Holdings Limited Board as a Director in September 2004. Ms Withers has extensive media experience in both radio and newspapers. Her last executive role was as Chief Executive of The Radio Network of New Zealand Limited, which was the largest radio network in the country. Ms Withers has been a professional company director since 1997, and currently sits on the boards of a number of New Zealand’s largest companies including Auckland International Airport Limited, The Warehouse Group Ltd and Meridian Energy Ltd.
Don Churchill has over 40 years’ experience in journalism and publishing. Since 2002, has been General Manager, Fairfax Central Region and The Dominion Post, and planned and implemented the successful merger of The Dominion and The Evening Post, which was regarded as a model of its type and well accepted in the marketplace. The Central Region has shown strong operating performance, the introduction of two new newspapers, and implementation of advertising and distribution synergies across publications in the business unit. Over the years, Don has served as General Manager of the Christchurch Press; Deputy General Manager, Wellington Newspapers; and General Manager of The Nelson Mail. He was editor of The Evening Post in the 1980s. He is a Director of the Newspaper Publishers Association and a Director of the New Zealand Press Association.
James Hooke is the Group General Manager of Fairfax Regional and Community Newspapers, whose mastheads include the Newcastle Herald, the Illawarra Mercury, the Warrnambool Standard, the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader and over 60 other community publications. Previously, he was Manager of Strategy for John Fairfax Holdings, responsible for corporate strategy and reviewing all acquisitions for the Group. While he was in this role Fairfax acquired INL’s publishing operations in New Zealand. James joined Fairfax in 2001. Previously, he was Managing Director Asia Pacific for AllAdvantage.com – a US Internet company. James also worked as a management consultant with Bain International in their London and Sydney offices. He has an Arts Law degree from UNSW. James developed his media experience in parallel to his career as a management consultant. From 1996 to 1999 he was an opinion columnist for the Australian Financial Review. In 1998 he was Executive Producer of a television comedy series for the Nine Network of Australia. From 1994 to 1995 he had a weekly radio segment on 2GB. James has written three books on communication and was editor on Tharunka, the student newspaper of UNSW.