Pedersen: Huntsworth management shake-up sparked resignation

Pete Pedersen has told PRWeek that the arrival of new management at Huntsworth represented the "best of possible timings" to resign as Grayling CEO, but he predicted success for the parent company despite recent difficulties.

Pete Pedersen: His successor will inherit an agency "poised for growth"
Pete Pedersen: His successor will inherit an agency "poised for growth"

His resignation yesterday after two years in the role follows a tumultuous period at Huntsworth, which has seen the resignation of CEO Lord Chadlington and chairman Lord Myners and the appointment of their successors, Paul Taaffe and Derek Mapp, respectively.

Huntsworth issued a profit warning in July and interim results in August showed revenue falls at Grayling, Citigate and Red, offset by growth at Huntsworth Health.

Pedersen distanced himself from suggestions that the trading performance was linked to his departure. "There’s never a good time to leave, but given the arrival of a new management team at Huntsworth, it seemed like the best of possible timings," he said.

"With the appointment of a new chairman in Derek Mapp, the announcement of Paul [Taaffe] joining the business in April, the appointment of new board members, [the Huntsworth senior team] have now got themselves to a point where they have settled and they can move forward confidently. I’ve got nothing but respect for Lord Chadlington and I think he is orchestrating a very smooth transition and I think Huntsworth will continue to succeed."

He said his successor would "inherit an agency that’s poised for growth."

Pedersen, who has a background in tech PR including 20 years with Edelman, said his decision to leave was to "get back to my roots" and to move closer to home after "too much time on the road."

"I’m keen to reconnect to my tech operations background, which has always been an important part of my professional career and something that I look forward to eventually returning to."

He added: "I’m looking at a bunch of interesting opportunities right now."

Pedersen said that among his proudest achievements at Grayling was to invest in training and talent to equip the company for the challenges of digital comms. He also highlighted Grayling’s work in the US, where there had been a particular focus, as well as in Europe and the Middle East during his tenure.

"It’s been a terrific two-year run," he added. "The management team and I have accomplished an awful lot in the span of those two years. We’ve fundamentally changed the direction of the agency, we’ve laid out a new course, hired a whole rafter of new talent to help deliver on that mission [and] made some significant moves in important markets like the US to stimulate the business.

"The decision to leave wasn’t an easy one at all."

There has been speculation that Huntsworth's different agencies could be sold off or the parent company could merge with Engine Group.

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