[PIC: Tom Campbell]
The agency has signed up Bell Pottinger Public Affairs director Liam McCloy as a director and other hires are believed to be in the pipeline.
Bell stepped down last week and was immediately placed on gardening leave. In a statement, he said: 'I feel it is simply time for me to look around and take on a new and different challenge.' Sources close to Bell said he planned to take on another agency role.
His announcement is understood to have caught many of his colleagues off-guard and raised eyebrows in the public affairs industry.
Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chairman Peter Bingle, a former colleague at the legendary lobbying outfit Westminster Strategy, said: 'Kevin is one of life's characters. He is a big player full stop. Without him what is Fleishman-Hillard? This is more than just a big blow.'
Other agencies also questioned the strength of F-H's corporate and public affairs offerings. F-H bosses approached by PRWeek declined to comment publicly on this, but privately insisted corporate and public affairs were both growing across the UK and Europe. F-H bosses claimed a number of recent big client wins in these areas - but declined to provide details.
Bell joined GPC International UK, which was subsequently merged with F-H, in 2000.