The hire follows a top-level restructure at WS North, which has also seen Jo Leah promoted to the position of sole MD and Julie Hayes moving up from account director to associate director.
The hire and restructure was triggered by the decision of joint-MD Rob Salmon to join Kelda Group as director of corporate affairs (PRWeek, 7 March). Salmon is set to leave WS in a fortnight.
Leigh said WS North planned to target PR business in cities stretching from Liverpool to Newcastle in a bid to challenge Communique Public Relations and Staniforth, Communications, which he described as the two ‘elder statesmen’ of Manchester’s PR scene.
Leah added that WS North planned to acquire ‘two- to three-man band’ PR agencies across the north of England.
At Harrison Cowley, Leigh has been replaced by Sarah-Jane Gray, who takes the title of Manchester office head and reports to London-based MD Loretta Tobin.
Gray was formerly an account director in Edelman London’s corporate team. She left at the end of last year to return to her native north-west to work in a freelance capacity.
Gray heads a seven-strong office, with Paul Tustin acting as deputy head.
Leigh had worked at Harrison Cowley for two years. He joined from a ‘group head’ role at Communique, where he ran accounts for brands including Boddington’s and Prudential.
Leigh – who now heads the team handling global comms work for five-year client Shell, and will also work on accounts such as Lloyds TSB and Peugeot – joins Leah and Hayes on a WS North board that reports to UK and Ireland joint-CEO Colin Byrne.