Confusion grows over Standard’s leadership plans

Media buyers say there is bemusement and uncertainty among agencies and at the Evening Standard over the future of the managing director’s role at the paper.

Veteran Bert Hardy was handed the job as a caretaker, following the departure of former managing director Mike Anderson earlier this month. A spokeswoman for Associated Newspapers confirms that Hardy is the caretaker managing director only.

But eyebrows were raised in the industry as the 76-year-old Hardy wasted no time in initiating a review of all commercial operations at the Evening Standard, prompting speculation that he could become a permanent fixture. The paper’s trading policy with ad agencies, which was controversial and at times unpopular under Anderson, is also to come under scrutiny.

One media buyer says/ “According to some at Associated, Hardy is settling in for the long term. They are all bemused by it. The person in that job must have foresight, energy and ideas – Anderson may not have saved the Standard but at least he came up with Standard Lite. I just wonder if a man of Hardy’s age can by dynamic enough.”

Another says: “He has the respect he needs and is a safe pair of hands, but he’s too old. I think Associated is struggling to find the right name to replace Anderson.”

And a source close to Associated says: “Hardy is called caretaker, but you can be caretaker for a long time. He has real passion, but it’s a big change to go from Anderson to someone who moves across the office half as quickly.”

Hardy has held many positions in the industry, including chief executive of News Group Newspapers, chairman of the Evening Standard and chief executive of Associated Newspapers and Press Holdings, which publishes The Daily Telegraph.

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