GCI's healthcare staff to move in with C&W team

The increasingly close relationship between WPP sister agencies Cohn & Wolfe and GCI took a further, eyebrow-raising twist this week.

It has emerged that GCI's UK healthcare team is in the process of upping sticks and relocating en masse to C&W's London HQ.

The unusual move – described as 'temporary' – coincides with news that GCI vice-president of health Europe Dan Beach left the firm last week. PRWeek was unable to contact Beach but he is believed to have a new job lined up.

The relocation of GCI UK healthcare MD Rhonda Smith, and all staff in her division, from GCI's New Bridge Street HQ to C&W's building in the West End is the latest episode in what the agencies have previously referred to as an 'alignment' of their respective operations.

Jonathan Shore, UK MD of C&W – and, since last October, also overseeing GCI UK as boss of a holding company set up to straddle the two agencies globally – maintained this week that a merger was not on the cards.

It is believed that GCI UK's healthcare team is now fewer than seven-strong, down from a peak of more than 20 staff around the turn of the millennium.

They are now working alongside C&W's UK healthcare team, run by joint managing directors Jeremy Clark and Jacinta Collins, and which is believed to be around 35-strong.

Collins said: 'Jonathan and Rhonda remain committed to turning GCI Healthcare around and getting it back on its feet. This is a temporary incubation period, for want of a better word, for GCI Healthcare – there are no plans to work on clients together.'

GCI UK clients are believed to include Shire Pharmaceuticals (on Alzheimer's drug Reminyl, see At A Glance opposite), Merck Sharp & Dohme, Medtronic and homeopathic remedy specialist Nelsonbach.
GCI's UK healthcare practice was founded a decade ago by Catherine Warne, who left – along with Julia Harries (née Tollis) – in 2000 to co-found Red Door Communications.

Shore added: 'I am relentlessly hiring for GCI, both in front-office and back-office teams.'

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