Gornall, who founded Scope Communications and Consolidated Communications – before selling the latter to his board in June 2001 – takes up his new post on 1 September.
It calls time on a 20-year PR career that culminated in a string of non-executive directorships and mentoring roles with the next generation of agency chiefs.
Gornall is set to sever his ties with all of these firms, which have included Kavanagh Communications, Tangerine PR and Seal Public Relations.
The only outside interest he will retain is his part-time chairmanship of Jo’s Trust, the charity established in memory of the late wife of James Maxwell, Gornall’s business partner at Scope.
Gornall’s new role will see him report to Reed Exhibitions chairman Mike Rusbridge and take responsibility for a 220-strong, £60m business. The company runs 40 events across 18 sectors, the most high-profile of which are the World Travel Market and the London Book Fair.
Reed Exhibitions is a subsidiary of the FTSE 100-listed Reed Elsevier group and recently appointed another PR consultant, Burson-Marsteller’s Chet Burchett, to Gornall’s equivalent role in the US.
‘I wasn’t looking for an exit from the PR business, but I was looking for something big to get my teeth into. This is it,’ Gornall said.
Focus Communications founder Rupert Ashe, a business partner of Gornall’s most recent venture, MGA, insisted it was ‘business as usual’. He said PA expert Nigel Clarke’s use of MGA as his consultancy vehicle was evidence of this.