Trinity Mirror

Andrew Hill

I predicted that HMV would fail – two years ago. The survival of the venerable British brand, defying doomy analysts’ forecasts, the digital musical revolution and generalised High Street decline, was arguably more surprising than its eventual slide into administration overnight on Monday. It still hurts – even if there is sense in the cold argument that “zombie” companies need to be cleared out before recovery begins. Everyone has shopped at HMV. Its demise has left my son as an unsecured creditor, with £30 of unspent HMV gift vouchers that now have purely souvenir value.

The fact the company lasted this long was partly down to the misfortune of rivals like Virgin Megastore, Woolworths, Game and Zavvi, whose earlier collapse drove CD, DVD and computer game buyers to the few remaining physical outlets. 

Andrew Hill

Simon Fox of Trinity Mirror, the UK newspaper and publishing group, is the latest chief executive to attempt to give a restructuring plan a sense of focus, simplicity and unity by attaching “One” to the company name. “One Trinity Mirror” – which unifies the regional and national newspaper divisions under a “flatter, more efficient management structure” – follows in the footsteps of One Ford, One Siemens, and One Anglo (at Anglo American), to name just a handful.

I prefer the “One” theme to some of the other names applied to past restructurings. Among my least favourite: “Shape 2012″ at Metro, the German retailer (“Pear-shaped 2012″ would have been more appropriate, as one observer pointed out ); Reuters’ “Fast Forward” – a scheme that predated the Thomson merger and led to mordant humour among the newly redundant about having been “fast-forwarded”; and law firm Linklaters’ “Project New World“, with its sinister Aldous Huxley overtones. 

Andrew Hill

Spare me the “shareholder spring” allusions. Not only does the parallel devalue the genuine sacrifice of those who took part in the popular revolts of the “Arab spring”, it misrepresents the nature of the shareholder rebellions that have now defenestrated three UK chief executives, including, today, Andrew Moss of Aviva.

Andrew Moss - no longer lord of all he surveys

Andrew Moss – no longer lord of all he surveys

The natural assumption is that high pay is the root cause of investors’ disgruntlement, whereas tone-deafness on remuneration was merely a symptom of a wider concern about Trinity Mirror, AstraZeneca and now Aviva. What really did for Mr Moss (apart from his habit of letting himself be photographed looking out over the City, like a jut-jawed lord of all he surveyed) was his performance not his pay.