'Most agencies operate like wholesalers': Romestan discusses new venture and turning Sorrell down

Corporate PR expert and ex-ComCorp VP Yves Romestan was "very excited" to announce the launch of his new agency this week.

Yves promises 'a different kind of agency'
Yves promises 'a different kind of agency'

YRSA Communications will offer a variety of services, from crisis comms and strategic consultancy to brand architecture and internal comms. Romestan plans to build on his decades-long career – at the likes of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Brandt group and Bouygues Construction – but stressed the need for a completely new kind of agency.

The 64-year-old said: "I'm very excited. The experience I’ve gained working on the client side in the UK, France, and the United States, I have observed that most businesses are not satisfied with the approach many agencies take with regard to the way they operate. In reality, the majority of agencies sell working hours and timesheets, operating like a wholesalers with a ‘clock-watching’ approach. This ‘model’ is defined by an incessant quest for margins that can often result in frustration for clients."

Yves said that YRSA will offer talent, solutions and results, and has so far assembled a 20-strong team of experts in their field. "We were looking for commitment, expertise and potential," he added. "People who have a good understanding of the bigger picture. Plus ambition and the readiness to invest in a challenge, and the journey we’re beginning. It’s also very important to have a good team spirit and a set of strong values."

"All members of my team are shareholders, or will become one. When I’m talking about a new model, this is part of it. I believe the best way to involve people is to give them opportunity. Remuneration is important, but also a bigger stake through co-ownership."

In the two months since the agency launched, YRSA has won 10 clients across watch-making, real estate, energy, investment and finance. But client discretion is something that is very important to Yves. He said: "I think we’ve started with a good portfolio of clients, despite not having a launch."

Yves explained how he turned down the chance to work with Martin Sorrell at WPP in 2017. "I declined because of a potential conflict of interest and my desire to return to France to see my family after 15 years, and dedicate myself to brand new project," he said. "But we have mutual respect for each other, so there is a strong chance that YRSA may be working with Sorrell in the future."

The company is currently based in France, but plans to open offices in London very soon and Yves – who is a dual nationality French/British citizen – had some very strong views on Brexit. "I voted to Remain. I was a bit disappointed with the outcome but I think the UK has many assets that will not just fade away. I believe the UK will continue to attract investors from across the world, particularly the US and Asia-Pacific."

Yves also has plans to launch YRSA Property in September, and in the next few years will look into the possibility of creating a campus or 'graduate school of communications' in France and the UK.

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