KGA rebuilds London team following senior departures

The UK operation of Kreab Gavin Anderson is undergoing a transformation after the loss of a raft of senior consultants, including the agency's former London leadership team.

The UK operation of Kreab Gavin Anderson is undergoing a transformation after the loss of a raft of senior consultants, including the agency's former London leadership team.

The firm has hired a group of consultants, staff, and departmental heads after suffering an exodus of employees in recent months.

PRWeek UK wrote in October than four senior Kreab Gavin Anderson executives had departed after a plan to buy back the former Gavin Anderson parts of the agency was rejected.

It is now understood that in total about ten partner-level staff, in addition to a number of directors and associates, have left in recent months.

One source claimed up to 17 of the agency's client-facing UK staff had left or resigned in recent months. KGA sources said the number was much lower, but were unable to provide a precise figure.

These include former UK managing partner Ken Cronin, who is believed to have taken up a chief executive role at a new energy trade association. Most recently, Cronin headed KGA's global energy practice, and he will continue to provide consultancy services to KGA.

Other key figures to have departed include former COO and deputy managing partner Deborah Walter and long-time Gavin Anderson consultant and senior partner Byron Ousey, who is thought to have retired in January.

PRWeek UK understands partners Patricia Hamzahee, James Benjamin, and Kate Hill have also moved on in recent months.

While not all the departures are necessarily related to the failed MBO plans, a number of sources have identified strategic tensions between the Swedish Kreab management and former Gavin Anderson senior staff.

“There's been massive disagreement over strategic direction,” one former KGA staffer said. “There is the sense that there is a refocusing away from financial PR.”

Gunilla Baner took over as managing partner in London in October and is overseeing a significant re-staffing of the UK business in order to offer an integrated service bringing together financial comms, corporate comms, and public affairs.

Last week, the firm announced former FSA board member Chris Pond was joining as partner and head of public affairs, and the agency is making a number of other senior hires.

KGA told PRWeek UK it had hired Matthew Jervois as head of the financial services team, joining from asset manager Janus Capital Group where he was head of corporate communications for EMEA and the Asia-Pacific region.

Additionally, Chris Philipsborn has joined as partner and head of the energy practice, having previously worked at Sellafield as director of communications and public affairs and A4E as head of communications and marketing.

Anna Schoeffler has joined as associate director from SEB Enskilda and Zami Majuqwana as an associate following graduation from Omnicom's Accelerate program.

KGA added that a number of additional hires, including a director of consumer and retail, were in the pipeline. The firm added that some global departmental heads, such as Sebastian Remoy, global PA president, and David Ibison, former Nordic Bureau chief for the Financial Times, are partly based in London.

The agency said in a statement its London practice was “as strong and robust as ever,” with ten partners and senior advisers forming part of its 25-strong headcount.

The most recent KGA departures are in addition to former communications president Fergus Wylie, CFO Gene Golembeski, Japan managing partner Deborah Hayden, and Hong Kong managing partner Richard Barton, who left the agency in the wake of the failed managed buy-out of the former Gavin Anderson portion of the business.

Additionally, worldwide CEO Richard Constant left last summer and London-based public affairs head Andrew Silverman started at Lansons in January 2012.

Kreab Group co-founder Peje Emilsson assumed the role of chief executive after Constant's departure.

This article originally appeared on the website of PRWeek UK, the sister publication of PRWeek at Haymarket Media.

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