End of era for NBR publisher

Publisher Barry Colman yesterday implemented a succession plan which will pass control of The National Business Review to its chief executive, Todd Scott.

Mr Colman, who is 65 later this year, said the time was right for the move following extensive restructuring of the business in the last four years to meet the rapidly-changing media market.

NBR’s aggressive online strategy and the creation of New Zealand’s first major subscriber paywall had allowed it to maintain its elite 100,000-strong business readership base while positioning it for future growth.

It would be “business as usual”, with all the current staff  being retained under the arrangement which will leave Mr Scott as the sole shareholder.

Mr Scott joined NBR in 2008 to lead the development of its online business and his management role was later expanded to include the newspaper operation. He was appointed chief executive in 2010.

His earlier career was in radio and television which culminated in a sales and marketing role in Wellington for MediaWorks, formerly RadioWorks, where he won several national performance awards.

Mr Colman has been NBR’s publisher for the last 24 years. He acquired the masthead from John Fairfax & Sons during the Australian company’s assets sell-off in the late 1980s.

The sell-off followed the ill-fated, junk bond-powered bid by Warwick Fairfax lll to take over his family’s giant media conglomerate.

Simultaneously, the NBR had struck financial hardship after Fairfax had taken the paper from bi-weekly to daily.

Its sales approach to other major newspaper companies were rebuffed and in his deal Mr Colman secured the loss-making NBR masthead for $1.

Mr Colman scrapped the daily format in favour of NBR’s traditional, award-winning Friday weekly one and restructured its production and distribution while moving head office from the capital to Auckland.

With its fortunes restored, NBR enhanced its brand with major arts sponsorships, including $2 million to date as the naming sponsor of the NBR NZ Opera Company.

Meanwhile, NBR has won numerous major editorial awards for its investigative journalism over the last two decades.

A former journalist, Mr Colman founded Liberty Publishing in Hamilton in 1977 with a community newspaper.

The company grew rapidly and went on to establish the nationwide Property Press stable, the first pictorial real estate publications in the country.

Property Press was sold to Kerry Packer’s ACP Media in 2001.

Mr Colman will retain some niche elements of the NBR stable, including the legal publication Capital Letter, which were not included in today’s deal.

He will remain as a consultant to the company.

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