Next Fifteen names Peter Harris as CFO

Next Fifteen has formalised the role of Peter Harris as its CFO. He has been serving in the position on an interim basis since last November.

Peter Harris: Next Fifteen CFO
Peter Harris: Next Fifteen CFO

Next Fifteen has appointed Peter Jonathan Harris, who has been overseeing the company’s finances on an interim basis, as executive director and CFO, effective Tuesday.

The holding company owns and operates Text100, M Booth, Bite, The OutCast Agency, Beyond and 463 Communications, among others.

Harris is reporting to Next Fifteen CEO Tim Dyson, who said Harris was the right fit for the role because of his prior experience in marketing services, as well as a good cultural fit with the management team.

Harris also "demonstrated as an interim [CFO] that he was capable of really making progress in a relatively short space of time", added Dyson.

Harris, the former Bell Pottinger and 19 Entertainment finance chief, was named interim CFO last November in the wake of the departure of David Dewhurst from the role.

Dewhurst, who worked at Next Fifteen for 14 years, stepped down from his role in October 2013. That same month, the holding company said its 2013 financial year profits would fall short of expectations, and that its results would be delayed due to the discovery of a fraud at its Bite subsidiary.

The holding company has said the incident took place in the firm’s San Francisco office, orchestrated "by a longstanding member of the finance team in a trusted position". In response, the company wrote off $2.8m in cash stolen at that time, as well as $200,000 in its 2013 fiscal year.

At the beginning of this year, the London-based umbrella group said that subsidiary Bite returned to profitability during the five-month period ending 31 December 2013.

Dyson added that the holding company would focus on a "significant upgrade" in the way it manages its financial systems internally, which includes the launch of a technology platform that Harris will oversee.

"[Harris will] also be working very much with me on the evolution of our business in general as we change the business away from being a traditional public relations business into a more digitally focused organisation," he explained.

Harris previously served as interim finance director at b2b media company Centaur Media, which included overseeing some of its subsidiaries. Before that, he worked at Bell Pottinger from August 2012 to June 2013, serving as interim CFO. Harris was also CFO of UK marketing services group Engine Group from March 2010 to June 2012, as well as CFO of 19 Entertainment for five years and group finance director of Capital Radio.

This story was first reported by PRWeek US.

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