Ben Bold
Jan 21, 2024

M&C Saatchi appoints headhunter in search for Moray MacLennan successor

Trading update, ahead of April's 2023 full-year results, noted improved second half of year.

M&C Saatchi: headline operating profit margin is expected to have improved in H2 of 2023
M&C Saatchi: headline operating profit margin is expected to have improved in H2 of 2023

M&C Saatchi has appointed a headhunter to help in its search for a new chief executive to succeed Moray MacLennan, according to a trading update, adding that pre-tax profit is in line with market expectations.

In a full-year update for 2023, the advertising group said its profit performance was underpinned by a strong second half, thanks to "cost saving initiatives and a simplified structure" – a reference to the company bringing together five key subsidiaries, including the London ad agency and sport and entertainment agency, into one "super group".

Marcus Peffers, who was appointed UK group CEO in September, is leading the combined UK operation, which also includes its government and tourism businesses.

The update said M&C Saatchi's H2 headline operating profit margin was expected to have improved to 16%, from 8% in H1.

"Full-year net revenue is expected to be £252m, representing a reduction of 7% versus 2022 (FY 2022: £271m)," the statement added.

M&C Saatchi is looking for a permanent replacement for MacLennan after his departure at the end of September. In the meantime, executive chair Zillah Byng-Thorne is leading the stock-market-listed company.

In the trading update, the group said it had appointed Odgers Berndtson "to assist with the process to find a new chief executive officer", adding that "this is well progressed".

The company said it would "update the market, as and when appropriate", and that Byng-Thorne would continue as executive chair.

News of MacLennan stepping down, after four decades working for the Saatchi brand, broke last summer. In a surprise move, it was revealed that Byng-Thorne, the newly appointed non-executive chair of M&C Saatchi and former chief executive of Future, would take temporary charge as executive chair on 1 September and MacLennan, the CEO since January 2021, would depart.

Commenting on the latest trading update, Byng-Thorne said: "It was an encouraging end to 2023 with the benefit of our strategy to focus on our priority markets, growth specialisms and the global transformation programme all beginning to have an impact in the business.

"Whilst economic headwinds remain, we are pleased with the progress we are making on building an enhanced and more connected operating model, which will accelerate our growth trajectory and achieve our ambitions."

Full-year results are expected to be reported in April.

Elsewhere in the trading update, the company said it had completed a divestment of M&C Saatchi Holdings Asia, which has been acquired by Anish Daryani, a director of M&C Saatchi Asia, for a cash consideration of around £500,000.

The flagship UK ad agency, M&C Saatchi London, is also hunting for a new ad agency chief executive to replace Camilla Kemp, who departed in 2023; as well as a chief creative officer to work alongside Peffers.



Campaign UK

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