Smith becomes Avenue CEO after Marchant exit

Avenue HKM chief executive Joanna Marchant has resigned just three months after the agency was bought by marcoms group Huntsworth.

Huntsworth has replaced Marchant with Jeff Smith, who only joined the company from Lilly UK less than two months ago.

Marchant said she already had ‘several things lined up’ and all parties were keen to stress that her exit was amicable. She said: ‘My goal this year was to find an appropriate owner for Avenue. It is now the time to move on.’

Smith described Marchant’s exit – and his promotion – as ‘something I had not anticipated’.

When he joined Huntsworth, Smith was handed what was described as a ‘roaming’ brief based out of the offices of PBC Group, Huntsworth’s healthcare marketing and med ed operation in Marlow.

Huntsworth paid Blackwell Science £1.37m upfront for Avenue, with a deferred consideration of £250,000 based on future revenue.

The agency has 35 employees – 18 down on the level of just over two years ago – and the company made pre-tax losses of £724,000 last year.

Marchant said: ‘There are some fantastic people at Avenue – they [have come through] a tough year but they have a bright future.’

Avenue has a six-strong management team reporting to Smith.

The team comprises Lucy Kirkpatrick, Jennifer Garratt, Sue Rout, Sara Black, Cathy McDonnell and Tara Stimpson.

Prior to joining Avenue almost five years ago, Marchant spent 16 years at former pharma giant Glaxo/Glaxo Wellcome.

The latter two years were spent on a two-year secondment with charitable operation Project HOPE UK.

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