Frieze! Former Mirror chief Fox takes art fairs job

14 January 2020, 16:43 | Updated: 14 January 2020, 17:43

The former boss of the Daily Mirror's publisher has landed a new role as chief executive of the company behind Frieze, operator of some of the world's leading contemporary art fairs.

Sky News has learnt that Simon Fox, who stepped down from his job at newspaper publisher Reach last year, will be announced as Frieze's new boss on Wednesday.

His appointment is understood to form part of a growth strategy drawn up by Endeavor, the American media and entertainment group which owns a 70% stake in Frieze's parent company.

Endeavor owns a disparate portfolio of assets, including Miss Universe, New York Fashion Week and the Ultimate Fighting Championship franchise.

It tried to go public last autumn but abandoned the share sale amid weak investor demand.

Endeavor bought a majority shareholding in Frieze through the art group's holding company, Denmark Street Limited, in 2016, for an undisclosed sum.

Since Frieze magazine was launched in 1991 by Amanda Sharp, Matthew Slotover and Tom Gidley, the company has expanded its presence around the world.

It launched its inaugural art fair in Regent's Park, central London, in 2003, and last year ran its first fair at Paramount Pictures Studios in Los Angeles last year.

A former chief executive of HMV, Mr Fox was also courted to run ITV, Britain's biggest commercial terrestrial broadcaster, a decade ago.

He turned the job down after deciding to remain loyal to the music and entertainment retailer, eventually resigning months before it crashed in administration in 2013.

Since leaving Reach last summer, Mr Fox has joined the board of the RAC, the roadside recovery service.

He also chairs the trustees of Good Business Foundation, a charity set up to promote responsible capitalism.

Mr Fox's exit from the owner of the Mirror, Express and Star newspaper titles came after seven years in which he had battled the headwinds of a declining print advertising market.

He grew the business through a string of local and national newspaper acquisitions, including a long-running courtship with the Express and OK! Magazine proprietor Richard Desmond.

His successor, Jim Mullen, is the former boss of Ladbrokes Coral, the bookmaker.

Neither Frieze nor Mr Fox could be reached for comment on Tuesday.