Andy Whelan, who left his role as group sales director at the Telegraph Group two weeks ago, has returned to Press Holdings, which publishes Telegraph papers, to work across several titles.
As group ad development director, Whelan will be responsible for the ad departments at The Spectator, The Business, The Scotsman, Handbag.com and Apollo.
The appointment marks Whelan’s third post since April, all of them at titles published by Press Holdings.
At the Telegraph, Whelan reported to executive director Dave King for just three months.
Before that he was ad director at The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday newspapers. Now it appears he has accepted a job which many in the industry are viewing as a “step down”.
The move has added weight to industry speculation that Whelan left the Telegraph because of a personality clash with King.
One industry insider says: “I don’t really know what went on between Whelan and King, but it’s a strange set of circumstances.
“The Telegraph’s ad revenue must be about &£600m a year whereas The Business would be lucky to make &£1m. It’s certainly a more junior position than the one he left in July.”
Another source adds: “The feeling when Whelan left in July was that he had been employed without the full endorsement of King and that the two had different styles of working that did not fit together.”
Whelan was replaced as the Telegraph Group sales director by Mathew Watkins, who was previously ad sales director at The Times.
vThe Barclay brothers, owners of Press Holdings, took over women’s lifestyle website Handbag.com in March. Prior to the acquisition, the website, set up in 1999, was a joint venture between the Telegraph Group and Boots. The Telegraph’s share passed from previous owner Hollinger to the Barclay brothers when they took control of the newspaper group last year.
The acquisition came as Handbag.com announced record readership figures of nearly 986,700 unique users, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations audit in January 2005, an increase of 13 per cent since January 2004.
Handbag.com is among the ten most recognised internet brands, according to Ocean Consulting’s third annual media brands study.