Who’d be a print boss? Eternal optimist Stevie Spring is nixed at Future Publishing

It’s no surprise that Future Publishing’s corporate mantra under just-resigned boss Steve Spring, a former UK MD of Young & Rubicam, was ‘media with passion.’

It looks a bit short on passion this morning and rather heavier on cold number crunching as new chairman Peter Allen, a finance type who also chairs some medical-related businesses, has removed CEO Spring and finance director John Bowman, congratulating himself on achieving “substantial savings by eliminating an entire tier of corporate overhead.”

Which is one way of saying, saving some much-needed money by firing the boss.

Spring, who joined Future in 2006 from Clear Channel, has fought a long battle to convince the City that the company, formed by Chris Anderson in Somerset in 1985, has a future in the digital media the company’s magazines used to write about so profitably. Future really hit the big time when it won the contracts to publish official magazines for the big games consoles manufacturers which it did to some effect, partly by putting free software packages on the covers.

But, although digital revenues are rising, the company’s profits are flat and Allen, who can obviously add up, clearly decided that Spring, on about £560,000 a year including bonuses, and Bowman, about £300,000, were a luxury he could dispense with by promoting the UK management (Future also has a business in the US) of Mark Wood, a former CEO of ITN, and finance man Graham Harding to the two top jobs.

In fact the writing has been on the wall for Spring since chairman (and old Clear Channel hand) Roger Parry stepped down in the summer. Wood, a non-executive director, was appointed UK boss.

So does Future have a future? If it does it’s likely to be as a much smaller entity (it’s currently the sixth-biggest UK-owned media business by sales).

As for Spring it will be interesting to see if she goes back into an ad agency. As MD of Y&R London she was bounced when WPP bought Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe and the lucky vendors (the agency was sold for £25m) moved in to run what became RKCR/Y&R. Interestingly her immediate boss at the time was Toby Hoare, now CEO of JWT Europe, who’s looking for a London CEO now that Guy Hayward has resigned.

But Spring, who can’t be short of a few bob, may find the prospect of working for WPP and its merciless boss Sir Martin Sorrell too much like a case of ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire.’

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.