Nicholas Walters, the outgoing CEO of Manning Selvage & Lee, this week urged his replacement to ‘focus on public affairs and becoming a top-ten agency'.
Walters, who is to step down from his role early next year (see Related Article) said: ‘We have doubled our size in the past four years [since he took his post], but the agency has an opportunity now to become a top-ten player.'
MS&L was ranked 17th in PRWeek's latest Top 150 Consultancies report (PRWeek, 21 April). Fee income for 2005 for the Publicis Groupe agency - which has around 80 staff in its West Kensington offices - was estimated to be £9.45m.
But one ex-staffer, who declines to be named, accuses the agency of ‘punching under its weight'. And there has certainly been staff turbulence in more than one division of late. This year alone its 14-strong healthcare team (down from 26 only last year) has had three different heads. Peter Carr currently holds the post after joining MS&L last month (PRWeek, 3 Nov).
Equally, the technology team has seen changes, with Justin Hayward joining from Ogilvy PR Worldwide to become head of technology and telecoms in June (PRWeek, 16 June). More recently it emerged that director Dave Bennett is heading for the exit - with the Xbox account he leads rumoured likely to follow (PRWeek, 27 October).
Former MS&L chief executive Jackie Elliot, who left in 2001, said the agency must now focus on holding onto valued staff.
‘I knew it as a company that was extremely hard to leave - in recent months the reverse seems to have become true,' she said. ‘A new leader with a big vision is required to help the London office take its proper place in the Publicis empire.'
Walters insisted his tenure has been largely successful, citing a ‘resurgence' in the tech and health practices during his four-year reign.
MS&L: LONDON MANAGEMENT
CEO until early 2007; Nicholas WALTERS
Consumer; Kelly WALSH
Corporate; Kate STEELE
Healthcare; Peter CARR
Tech and telecoms; Justin HAYWARD
Financial services; Duncan HART
Food and drink; Bronwen ANDREWS
Consumer electronics; appointed but not announced
New-business development director; Aysen YILMAZ
Finance director; Tim MORLEY
Planning director; Natalie GODFREY