Gideon Spanier
Apr 20, 2018

Read and Scott: Break-up of WPP makes no sense

Memo to WPP’s 130,000-plus staff says that "in a world where clients need faster, more agile, integrated solutions, we need to get closer together, not further apart."

Read and Scott
Read and Scott

WPP's joint chief operating officers Mark Read and Andrew Scott have said they do not believe a break-up of the ad group makes sense.

Read sent a memo on behalf of Scott and himself to all of WPP’s 130,000-plus staff in which they say the group remains "a great business with outstanding people" and "world-class agencies" despite the shock departure of Sir Martin Sorrell as chief executive.

"Nothing that’s happened in the last week has changed that," Read wrote.

He acknowledged that City analysts have speculated that parts of WPP such as its research or public relations businesses could be broken up.

Read said: "We don’t believe this makes sense. In a world where clients need faster, more agile, integrated solutions, we need to get closer together, not further apart."

When Sorrell quit on Saturday following allegations of personal misconduct, which he denied, WPP named Read and Scott as joint chief operating officers as the group searches for a chief executive.

WPP split the duo's responsibilites. Read is responsible for clients, operating companies and people and Scott oversees financial, operational performance and reorganisation of the group.

WPP is expected to announce more details of its future strategy when it reports first-quarter results on 30 April.

It is understood that this is the first time that WPP has sent such an email to its entire, global staff of close to 170,000, who include associate companies.

In the past, the heads of WPP's agencies would have sent such emails to their teams.

Mark Read’s full memo to staff:

Over the last four days I’ve spent as much time as possible speaking to our people and clients. There’s universal admiration for Martin’s achievements, and sadness about his departure. At the same time, there’s a huge amount of support and goodwill for the company, and no shortage of confidence about the future.

That confidence is well founded. The companies and client teams that make up WPP are exceptionally good at what they do. They are major organisations in their own right, with their own strong leaders. The clients I’ve spoken to have all been clear: they value their partner agencies and teams, they expect them to continue to deliver, and they have no doubt that they will.

Andrew and I have been given a very clear brief by the Board.

First, to run the business on a day-to-day basis. I’m looking after people, clients and companies and Andrew is focused on operational and financial performance and managing the WPP portfolio.

And second, to move forward decisively on the Group’s strategy. We have tremendous strengths within WPP, and we plan to build on those while bringing our own perspective and ideas.

WPP’s greatest strength is the depth and diversity of our talent (meaning you). We’re working closely with the leaders of our companies, and listening carefully to their views, as we develop our plans. 

Some things we know already: we’ll get even closer to our clients to better understand and meet their needs and to help them grow in a world of disruption; we’ll get closer to technology partners like Adobe, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others; we’ll make sure our structure and offer make it as simple as possible for clients to access our services across the Group; and we’ll put data, technology and creativity at the heart of what we do.

There’s been speculation about breaking up the Group. We don’t believe this makes sense. In a world where clients need faster, more agile, integrated solutions, we need to get closer together, not further apart. 

We’ll share more as soon as we can but, in the meantime, if you have questions let us know and we’ll do our best to answer them. 

WPP is a great business with outstanding people, world-class agencies and most of the world’s leading companies as its clients and partners. 

Nothing that’s happened in the last week has changed that.


Campaign UK

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