Duke goes into administration but Hughston plots comeback

Neil Hughston: Duke CEO
Neil Hughston: Duke CEO

Duke London, the agency launched by former Grey exec Neil Hughston, has been placed into administration, with plans to relaunch it under a new moniker.

According to a post on the London Gazette, the company has been placed under the Leicester-based administrators CBA Business Solutions.

In a statement, Hughston, Duke’s chief executive said the agency had suffered from its founding client commissioning work and then pulling out without payment.

Hughston said: "In the spirit of Bernbach’s ‘a principle is not a principle until it costs you something’, we’re prepared to pursue them for what is owed with our integrity intact."

He explained Duke will relaunch as Duke Productions in a "pre-pack" insolvency deal, where a restructure plan is agreed in advance of a company declaring its insolvency.

"While we could have chucked in the towel, we agreed around our executive creative director's kitchen table that we’ve still got the passion to make this work and a creative fire in our belly to make great work." Hughston added. "Though frankly, we’d rather be focused on ‘Fighting Indifference’ in partnership with future clients than fighting set-backs before we’ve truly got started."

Duke launched at the end of 2015. Hughston, who was also a co-founder of the now defunct Johnny Fearless, started the agency with Jo Tanner and Mark Howard as joint executive creative directors and equity partners. They were later joined by Steve Stokes in March 2016.

However last November Tanner and Stokes quit the company citing "fundamental disagreements over the direction of the company" with Hughston.

Duke subsequently hired MullenLowe global planning director Sandya Piyasena as strategy partner and promoted business director Kate Tweed to managing partner.

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