Freebie newsbrand The Evening Standard has confirmed that Mike Soutar will be stepping down as chief executive officer from the end of May.

The co-founder and former CEO of magazine publisher Shortlist Media (now The Stylist Group) joined the business as CEO in October 2019, in what was then a newly-created position.

Soutar joined the industry 30 years ago, and has worked across print, digital and broadcast in both the UK and internationally. He has edited print titles including Smash Hits and FHM, served as managing director of Kiss FM and sat on the board of IPC Media (now TI Media).

He later co-founded Shortlist Media – publisher of freebie magazines Stylist and the now-closed Shortlist – in 2007, and oversaw the sale of the business in 2016

“I’ve loved working with the whole team at the Evening Standard and I think we can all be proud of the major strides we have made in our commercial performance, on editorial integration, and distribution innovations over recent months, particularly through the challenging times caused by the global Coronavirus pandemic,” Soutar said.

“In the last few weeks I’ve taken time to reflect on my own ambitions and plans and it is on that basis that I have made the decision to step away to pursue other business interests. I will remain a passionate supporter of the Standard and its brilliant people.”

The Board is to make further announcements in due course about the leadership of the company.

The final pre-lockdown ABC circulation figures for March saw the London Evening Standard take an early hit from the coronavirus pandemic, likely due to a reduced number of commuters travelling in and out of the capital. The newspaper’s circulation dropped 11.1% to 700,000, a loss of 87,000 copies.

Overall, the total London free press plummeted -9.2%.
While one of London’s other free-sheets, City A.M., has suspended print publication since the nationwide lockdown, The Evening Standard announced late last month that it would be delivering its papers direct to people’s homes for the first time in the publication’s history.