Portland restructures with new MD and senior departures

Portland is restructuring most of its global business under a single P&L, with a new MD appointed for the combined operation and the announcement of several senior departures, PRWeek has learned.

CEO Mark Flanagan: 'It's long been my aim to remove as many internal barriers as possible'
CEO Mark Flanagan: 'It's long been my aim to remove as many internal barriers as possible'

Head of corporate Sam Ingleby becomes MD of the new combined operations, which include all the global business apart from Portland Europe – the Brussels, Paris and Berlin offices will continue to report separately "for the time being".

The change follows the recent move of Martin Sheehan from international MD to senior adviser at the Omnicom agency, which has its headquarters in London.

Two international partners will be appointed to the new unified management board of partners and senior partners: Anneka Munsch, who will lead the government advisory practice and manage offices in Singapore, Doha and Washington DC; and Noah Black, who will lead the Qatar government communications office account from Doha, starting in August.

Departures at Portland include:

In an internal memo seen by PRWeek, Portland CEO Mark Flanagan said: "It's long been my aim to remove as many internal barriers as possible to make our client experience as seamless as possible. We want everyone, in any team or in any location, to be working towards the same target.

"We are now able to bring all business units together (apart from, for the time being, our colleagues at Portland Europe) into one global P&L. We will retain individual teams of specialists, as these are an indispensable part of our offer to clients, but will do so under a single, integrated structure. We will continue to report Brussels, Paris and Berlin separately – while driving as much collaboration as possible around client opportunities."

PRWeek understands the departures are a combination of redundancies and resignations. Wide-scale redundancies have not happened at more junior levels at Portland, although, like many agencies, some staff have been furloughed.

Omnicom agencies have been under pressure to reduce costs during the pandemic. In April, Omnicom CEO John Wren told employees that staff reductions, salary cuts and furloughs would be taking place across the group's agencies amid the crisis.

The restructure at Portland isn't the only recent move towards integration in Omnicom's PR business. Last month the holding company announced that Ketchum and Porter Novelli are to combine operations in Brussels.

Portland follows several other global PR agencies in moving to a single P&L model. Sister agency Ketchum did so in 2018, while Edelman and Weber Shandwick took the step for their UK operations in 2019 and 2016 respectively.

Portland, whose founder Tim Allan stepped down at the end of 2019, generated revenue of just under $50m last year – a rise of 12 per cent versus 2018 – according to estimates in PRWeek's Agency Business Report.

In June, PRWeek reported that Portland's head of health in the UK, Dr Jane Brearley, had left the agency.

Portland declined to comment.

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