Walters urges MS&L to aim for 'top ten'

Manning Selvage & Lee's London CEO issues battle cry ahead of departure from the role early next year.

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

DIVISIONAL DIRECTORS

Consumer;
Kelly WALSH
Corporate; Kate STEELE

GROUP HEADS

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

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