Monday, 17 December, 2018

Martin Sorrell steps down as chief executive of WPP

WPP lines up potential replacement for Sorrell WPP CEO Martin Sorrell Steps Down
Kelvin Reese | 17 April, 2018, 18:42

In a statement, WPP has said: "The previously announced investigation into an allegation of misconduct against Sir Martin has concluded".

Sorrell, 73, will step aside immediately, according to a statement late on Saturday by WPP.

Sorrell is said to have refuted the accusations levelled against him in a farewell letter to staff but has resigned from his role nonetheless, claiming that the "current disruption" was negatively affecting the business.

Sir Martin Sorrell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of advertising company WPP, speaks during an interview with CNBC at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 13, 2017. In its 2016 annual report, WPP said succession planning was underway and a pool of internal and external candidates had been identified.

Sorrell has been at the helm for over 30 years and oversaw WPP's ascent into the world's biggest advertising company, and analysts have queried what's next for a firm that was so intertwined with its boss.

Sorrell, who worked at Saatchi & Saatchi before founding WPP, said the company has been "a passion, focus and source of energy for so long". However, I believe it is in the best interests of the business if I step down now. Sorrell was set to join the rest of the board early next week for scheduled meetings ahead of the company's quarterly results, making a quick resolution of the probe nearly inevitable.

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Analysts have speculated that the sprawling group, which was being restructured after a year of lower spending from some clients, could now sell off some assets if led by different management.

"Sir Martin Sorrell's resignation as CEO of WPP will raise speculation about the future of the group", Whittaker and his team wrote. He is one of the most high profile, and best paid, executives in the country.

He then set off to build his empire, which today consists of some of the world's biggest and most influential advertising, media and marketing services companies including Ogilvy & Mather, J. Walter Thompson, Kantar and Burson-Marsteller.

It largely outperformed its peers Omnicom, Publicis and IPG in the years that followed the financial crisis as the group pitched aggressively for new work. However, it has suffered in the past 18 months from lowering the cost of consumer goods companies such as Unilever and P&G, and the loss of some large customers.

Having run the agencies as separate companies for years to stimulate competition, WPP had started to break down the barriers to appease clients who found it unwieldy and unsuited to the digital age where clients could create their own content and place it directly on Google and Facebook.

Sorrell told staff that WPP had come through hard times before and would do so again, saying he would be available to anyone who wanted advice.

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