M&C Saatchi UK ad agency chiefs Giles Hedger and Justin Tindall quit

M&C Saatchi: Hedger and Tindall
M&C Saatchi: Hedger and Tindall

UK shop lost NatWest account as group struggled with accounting scandal.

The chief executive and chief creative officer at M&C Saatchi’s UK ad agency are taking voluntary redundancy, adding to the sense of crisis surrounding the group.

M&C Saatchi said chief executive Giles Hedger and chief creative officer Justin Tindall "had requested redundancy" after losing the NatWest ad account.

Losing that piece of business, which is believed to be worth more than 10% of the UK ad agency’s revenues, was part of the reason why M&C Saatchi issued a group profit warning on 4 December – alongside news of a separate and worsening accounting scandal. 

M&C Saatchi said: "Tim Duffy will act as interim CEO, whilst Matt Lee and Mark Goodwin will oversee the creative department. A further announcement regarding structure and leadership will be made in mid-January."

Hedger commented: "I have decided to leave M&C Saatchi as part of the voluntary redundancy programme triggered by the loss of NatWest.

"I have written to the agency to say that putting myself forward was the only fair and honourable thing to do. In doing so, I hope to spare others less senior than myself."

Tindall said: "Following the recent announcement of a redundancy programme, it was unconscionable for me to make judgments about the livelihoods of others without putting myself forward first. As such, and with a heavy heart, I volunteered for redundancy."

M&C Saatchi said it "reluctantly accepted" the requests by Hedger and Tindall to leave.

The creative agency offered voluntary redundancy to all UK staff after losing NatWest in November after almost 20 years.

The accounting scandal, which is unconnected, has seen M&C Saatchi make £11.6m in adjustments to its 2018 and 2019 financial results.

The departure of Hedger and Tindall follows a huge, boardroom bust-up at the parent company over how to handle the accounting problems.

Maurice Saatchi, a co-founder of M&C Saatchi and an executive director, and all three non-executive directors – Michael Dobbs, Sir Michael Peat and Lorna Tilibian – resigned on 10 December after clashing with the other co-founders, David Kershaw, Jeremy Sinclair and Bill Muirhead.

Hedger has been CEO since 2017 and Tindall has been the top creative since 2016.

The UK ad agency has had "a tough couple of years", according to 2018 accounts for M&C Saatchi (UK), which were filed in October.

The creative shop reported 6% revenue growth but made a £2.9m loss. "No major clients were won", it took a £1.6m write-down on the acquisition of Lean Mean Fighting Machine and there was growing exposure to the top five clients, which represented 69% of revenues.

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