Downturn leads to further senior jobs losses at B-M

Burson-Marsteller has made a second round of senior job cuts in

less than a year, losing 14 staff from its London office total of just

over 150.

The agency, which cut 13 senior jobs at the end of last year (PRWeek, 12

December 2000), told employees of the need to lose head count last week

in a meeting at its Bloomsbury headquarters.

London MD Allan Biggar confirmed the total staff tally would drop from

176 to 162. The job losses include eight staff carrying the title

director - out of a total director headcount of 35 - a further three

senior account handling staff and three support workers.

Biggar said: 'We are pretty lean after last year's round of

redundancies, but when there is less business around you have to make

tough decisions.

Some of our business comes from the US and although we are not overly

exposed, everyone is going through a belt-tightening process and this is

a sensible business decision we just had to make.'

He said the staff cuts had not been ordered by B-M's parent company,

WPP, but insisted that 'we live in recessionary times'.

The first round of cuts saw 13 jobs go, including that of the chief

European operating officer Jeff Hunt and healthcare MD Lesley


European head of knowledge Susan McKay, her deputy Alison Sheehan and

the director of the public affairs brand BKSH, Ian Lindsley, were among

other senior staff to face the chop.

This round of job losses comes at a time when the agency has been trying

to lure back public affairs and PR veteran - and former B-M employee -

Des Wilson.

Wilson, who spent two years at the agency after stepping down as the

Liberal Democrats director of campaigns in the wake of the 1992 general

election, was unavailable for comment as PRWeek went to press.

It is understood however, that Biggar is hoping to secure his services

to work across divisions - not just in the PA arm which he built up

between 1993 and 1994.

Wilson, the founder of homeless charity Shelter, left B-M to become

director of corporate and public affairs for airports operator BAA in

1995, after being personally headhunted by CEO Sir John Egan.

He stood down from that role, where he had responsibility for securing

regulatory approval for a fifth terminal at Heathrow, last year. He

remains a consultant to BAA and is a non-executive director of Carphone

Warehouse, the mobile phone chain.

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