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Guardian Media Group appoints new CEO

14 Jan 2020  |  Michaela Jefferson 
Guardian Media Group appoints new CEO

Following a three month search, Guardian Media Group - the publishing group which owns the Guardian and the Observer newsbrands - has named Annette Thomas as its new chief executive.

Thomas, who trained as a scientist, has over two decades' experience in publishing and data analytics businesses - including a stint as editor of the journal Nature.

She was appointed managing director of Nature Publishing Group in 2000, and has since held roles including chief executive of Macmillan Publishers Ltd and chief executive of Macmillan Science and Education, where she oversaw the merger between Macmillan and Springer Science and Business Media.

Most recently, Thomas was CEO at the data, analytics and software business Web of Science Group. She also currently serves as a trustee of Yale University and a non-executive director of Cambridge University's Press and Assessment businesses.

Commenting on the appointment, Neil Berkett, chair of the Guardian Media Group (GMG) board, said Thomas is the "ideal person" to lead the next phase of the business' "evolution", alongside Guardian editor-in-chief Katherine Viner.

“The hard work of the past three years has put GMG in a stronger position, while also making our business more digital, more international and more reader centric," Berkett said. "Even so, it’s clear that we’ll continue to face big headwinds in the global media sector in 2020 and beyond.

“[Thomas'] track record is exceptional - she has consistently delivered sustainable growth through deep engagement with end-users, championing innovative new business models with more open access to content and data, and building diverse and inclusive management teams."

Thomas commences her new role on 2 March 2020, taking over from Anna Bateson, who has served as interim chief executive since November. Bateson will subsequently return to her role as chief customer officer.

“I am delighted to be joining Guardian Media Group as chief executive," Thomas said. "The Guardian brand, its progressive perspective, global reach, and unique ownership structure with its values safeguarded by the Scott Trust are all significant strengths in these challenging times.

“The Guardian is demonstrating that establishing a deep and loyal relationship with readers, empowering them with information and delighting them with insight, creates an opportunity to develop new business models," she continued, adding that she looks forward to working with Viner to develop a financially sustainable future for the publisher.

Thomas replaces David Pemsel, who left the business late last year to take up the chief executive position at the Premier League, only to step down weeks later after allegations of sexual misconduct.

Pemsel led the group during a three-year turnaround period, which saw the company break even in 2019 for the first time in recent history following losses of £19m in 2017/18 and £57m in 2015/16.

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