Loss-hit Atkins cuts ties with Brunswick

WS Atkins, the UK's largest engineering consultancy and part-owner of bankrupt tube contractor Metronet, has dropped Brunswick as its primary retained agency.

Metronet: under administration
Metronet: under administration

The engineering giant has acted after suffering a record loss of around £40m this year owing to Metronet’s ongoing problems. It has brought in rival agency Smithfield to replace Brunswick.

Brunswick had also been working for Metronet, making its relationship with ­Atkins untenable once the former went bankrupt.

‘We initially brought Smithfield on board for an issues-management brief related to our interest in Metronet,’ said Ben Thompson, head of Atkins’ press office. ‘Smithfield performed well, so we took the decision to make our move permanent.’

Atkins made headlines this summer after Metronet went into administration. Atkins is part of a consortium, which includes rival Balfour Beatty and utilities ­giants Thames Water and EDF, that owns the troubled tube firm.

Auditors claim Metronet could owe up to £1.6bn to banks and the London Underground after it failed to deliver promised station ­refurbishments. The contractor manages and maintains two-thirds of London Underground’s track.

Also... Atkins has hired a new comms head in a bid ­rebuild its reputation. Internal comms director Sara Lipscombe has been promoted to group comms ­director, replacing James Garthwaite, a former Brunswick consultant, who left in May after less than a year.

Lipscombe heads a team of more than 60 marketing and comms staff across the Atkins group. She said that Atkins is currently reviewing both its agency roster and its in-house team. ‘We are looking to recruit several more communications people in key areas, including the group press office,’ she added.

Atkins signed up Cohn & Wolfe earlier this year to boost the profile of its design and engineering solutions division (PRWeek, 27 June). Other agencies on the Atkins roster include Camargue, Golley Slater, Clothier Lacey and 3x1.

Last year, Atkins joined the winning consortium ­chosen to ­design London’s Olympic Park ahead of the 2012 games.

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