Route to the top

It’s fair to say Evgeny Lebedev had a good start in life – he’s the son of one of Russia’s wealthiest men.

However, he’s chosen a life of industry and has shown genuine business acumen in today’s news market. In taking over The Independent, he endorsed ruthless staff cuts, but innovations like the i have helped him take the paper closer to financial stability in years.

Lebedev’s ownership of the Evening Standard has been even more successful, with the paper’s distribution rocketing from 200,000 to 600,000. The chief driver has been the shift to free distribution, which brought it into a new golden age.

Key achievements

  • Tripling the Evening Standard’s distribution by offering it free.
  • Turning The Independent round so it went from losing £30m the year he took over to breaking even in a matter of years. This has included the creation of the i, the first real innovation in newspapers for decades.
  • Constructing a highly visible and positive media profile, often highlighting charity work and other good works.
  • Launching London Live – London’s first ever local television station.
  • Building a successful property portfolio, including restaurants, hotels and a pub.

Lessons for your store

  1. Nothing can ever be written off – both the Evening Standard and The Independent were tipped to close before Lebedev took them over.
  2. Don’t be afraid to gamble – taking the Standard free was a huge risk that paid off handsomely.
  3. Innovation is key – Lebedev has never been bound by tradition, and is constantly experimenting.