He has held the role since October 2020, having previously edited the Bolton News and Newsquest sister title the Lancashire Telegraph.
Holbrook told HTFP: “It has been the honour of a lifetime to lead the editorial teams of The Northern Echo and I will be incredibly sad to leave.
“In the past 12 months we were named Newsquest’s Publishing Centre of the Year; achieved some of the biggest audience growth in the company, our online subscribers rose more than 30pc and our print circulation - which is the highest in NQ in England - holds up incredibly strong. The vital signs are strong, and I will forever look on with pride and admiration for this incredible brand.
“I will also be forever grateful to Newsquest, in particular Nick Fellows, for taking a punt on me giving me my first editorship at the Bolton News back in 2018.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported my career in Newsquest, not least of all David Coates for trusting me with the job of a lifetime at the Northern Echo.
“A special thank you also to Henry Faure Walker and Toby Granville for their support and encouragement throughout my journey and also to all the fantastic editorial and commercial teams that have made our success possible.”
Holbrook announced his departure to the Echo staff on Tuesday morning.
Speaking of his new role he said: “I am hugely excited to be appointed executive director of the Daily Express.
“The brand has such a rich history of investigative reporting, right back to a time when it was the first title in the world to report on the horrors of the atomic aftermath at Hiroshima.
“I look forward to helping further grow its audience across all platforms and build on its strong heritage speaking up for everyday folk across the UK.”
David Coates, regional managing director for Newsquest north, said: “Karl has done a fantastic job throughout the pandemic, achieving substantial audience growth over a period in which Newsquest North-East was also named Newsquest’s Publishing Centre of the Year.
“He’s played an important role in our management team, and I know all colleagues will wish him well for the future.”
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