James Warburton: 'We can't cut our way to growth'

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 25 October 2019
James Warburton at the 2019 Upfronts

Seven's new boss James Warburton has emphasised that the company's growth strategy is not underpinned by cost-cutting and will be driven by greater investment in content and structure.

Speaking to AdNews following Seven's annual upfronts, Warburton says he was clear to shareholders on Seven's strategy, which he says is all about getting debt down.

"We have a range of strategies to do that, some of which include obviously getting more earnings and adding to the topline. Yes, some restructuring to the business and then investing in content," Warburton says.

"All that being said, the truth is you can't cut your way to growth and hopefully, people see us not doing that. One example being in primetime, we had two tentpoles and now we have a whole range of things we are programming all the way through."

His comments followed the decision by Seven earlier this year to cut more than 100 staff in a major restructure, with sources saying at the time the number of staff to go could be as high as 150 or more.

AdNews understands the savings driven through the cost-cutting has been put back into Seven's content strategy, of which Warburton says will receive a 30% increase.

He says it's about getting back to content and driving it through the line, whether that be on-air, digital, BVOD and others.

The former APN Outdoor boss also says there are some SVOD strategies that also needs to be looked at, adding that while he didn't any imminent plans, that it was "certainly something" the team was working toward.

"It's also been for me a matter of putting some energy back into the business, something I did during my time at APN Outdoor and before that when I was here at Seven before," Warburton says.

Warburton has also been locked in deep conversation with the buyers prior to the upfronts reinforcing the overall business strategy.

"We have told them the focus is on 7.30pm. I've pointed out the strengths around that and we've also had to commit to repairing any of those shortfalls that have come as a result," Warburton says.

"They know me, the operator I am because and I've worked with them in the market for so long they trust that there will be action but are also aware that it will take some time to rectify things.

"However, they are on-board with all of that and know that there will be the right level of change over time that will give the business momentum."

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