The exit, revealed on Tuesday by prweek.com, was ordered by Edelman Europe president and CEO David Brain. It comes amid plans to merge JCPR into Edelman UK.
‘The merger left me with two CEOs,' said Brain. ‘Stuart was unlucky, but Robert has a unique passion and is an individual of the stature we require to compete in the world's toughest PR market.'
Brain went on to describe Phillips as a ‘PR savant' and cited his ‘unbelievable retention of data and fact' as the reason he secured the role. Phillips has a reputation in the industry as one of its hardest-working and most intense individuals. Smith is not thought to have yet lined up another job. He was unavailable for comment.
The reshuffle sees eponymous JCPR co-founder Jackie Cooper become Edelman UK creative director.
Phillips argued he was right for the new role. ‘If you go further back in my career I used to work in public affairs. I've also advised on massive technology brands such as Sony and Motorola,' he said. ‘This year we've been working on two very big consumer health clients on launch briefs.'
Both Phillips and Brain have known about the changes for some weeks, and Phillips has been increasingly involved in Edelman business over the last year.
‘After the acquisition [of JCPR] three years ago we expected it to take six years for JCPR and Edelman to be working in harmony, but it has happened much quicker,' said Brain. ‘Clients were actually becoming inconvenienced by the divide.'
Phillips said hybrid client contracts were increasingly common. Edelman and JCPR are working on over £2m of consumer-tech and consumer-health business, he added.
The coming together of the companies coincides with Edelman's lease on its Piccadilly offices ending next year. The agencies had planned to move in together then.