Veteran newspaper publisher Sir Ray Tindle says it’s business as usual after stepping up to become president and appointing his son Owen to become chairman of the Tindle Newspapers and Radio Group.
Sir Ray, who will be 91 in October, has had a series of illnesses this year, and says the time is right for him to pass the baton to Owen, who himself is no stranger to the newspaper industry.
Owen, 60, runs the successful and profitable Oxon Hoath Retreat and Conference Centre near Tonbridge in Kent. He project-managed the renovation of the magnificent 14th century, 28 bedroom country estate, starting in 1999, launched the business from scratch, and has managed it ever since. The business runs over 80 events each year including many events for the newspaper industry.
Owen began his newspaper career in the 1970s working as a photographer for the Farnham Herald, Kensington News & Post and the Tenby Observer – one of the many newspapers Sir Ray has saved over a number of decades after the previous owners announced its closure.
During the 1980s Owen, along with editor Martin Fenner, co-founded and managed ‘Night Out’, the first Time Out-style listings magazine for Brighton and Sussex.
“I also established a computerised typesetting and production department for the Biggin Hill News Group from scratch and managed the department for two years producing around 144 pages a week.”
He invented, designed and marketed The Newspaper Planner, the first automatic page planning software in the UK and his company exhibited at the Newspaper Society’s biennial Newstec conference and exhibition in Brighton in 1987 and at AFN and Newstec exhibitions for the following five years.
With programmers Alan Nesbitt, Linden Rowland and Martin Sharp, Owen went on to develop an integrated desktop booking system and The Newspaper Planner and its associated products were sold to 52 publishing companies across the UK and Australia.
Licenses for The Newspaper Planner (aka Planner 2000) were sold to UK newspaper software companies GB Techniques, Miles 33 and QED and the business was eventually acquired by QED. Nesbitt and Rowland continue to develop systems for the industry.
“That’s when I travelled the world, held photographic exhibitions, made short films and was involved in theatre design and production,” said Owen.
When he returned full time to the UK he worked in Farnham Herald IT and production departments helping to establish advanced computerised systems and developing systems for classified titles with Farnham production manager Garnett Green, now IT Director, and the Surrey Advertiser.
He was also a director and member of the Board of Management of Tindle Newspapers for six years, meeting on a weekly basis to discuss each paper’s weekly results in detail.
That’s a role he has returned to as group chairman, though day to day control of the business rests with deputy chairman Wendy Craig – a Tindle stalwart for more than 30 years – and chief executive Danny Cammiade, who has been working with the group since 2015.
With nearly 40 years industry experience Danny has brought a wealth of knowledge to Tindle both from his time running multi-sited newspaper publishing centres and more recently from a number of advisory and non-executive roles for International and UK based companies.
In July the Group closed its North London newspapers the Enfield Advertiser & Gazette, the Haringey Advertiser and the Barnet Press due to unsustainable losses. This is the first time that Tindle has closed down a wholly-owned newspaper operation.
The move came a week after several former Tindle titles in south and west London, now owned by Capital Media Newspapers, of which Tindle owns 30%, went into administration.
Though the publishing environment for local newspapers remains tough, and nowhere is it tougher than the greater London area, the last word goes to Sir Ray.
“Local news is far different to national and regional daily news. Daily newspapers need speed, whereas local newspapers need detail.
“I’m still convinced that because we give local news in detail which nobody else does, that there will always be a demand for the local newspaper.
“But it has to be a newspaper full of local content. If it’s got detail, it’s got what local newspaper readers need. The challenge going forward of course is to sustain, and grow, new revenue streams. And that really is a challenge.”
Full report of Tindle Management Conference announcing the management changes and speeches by Sir Ray and Owen Tindle – see pjnews.co.uk