Steve Gatfield Quietly Steps Down at Naked, New York

Agency Says a Replacement Will Be Named Soon

By Published on .

Naked Communications is searching for a replacement for its co-chairman, industry veteran Steve Gatfield, who quietly left the New York-based job this month.

Steve Gatfield
Steve Gatfield
Mr. Gatfield, a former Interpublic and Leo Burnett executive, joined the communications-planning agency in May 2011 to help oversee global expansion and is leaving for personal reasons. His departure comes just six months after Paul Woolmington, a founding partner of Naked's U.S. operations, Naked Communications Americas, left. Amid the changes, Jon Wilkins, Mr. Gatfield's fellow chairman and one of Naked's founders, moved to New York and started shifting Naked's global headquarters to New York from London. He said he plans to remain in New York for at least two years.

"Steve did a great job with our strategic template, and got us going in Brazil, and now we're looking for someone with more operational, CEO-type skills," said Mr. Wilkins from Paris, where he was meeting with clients. "Steve is a major strategist."

Mr. Wilkins noted that the agency has been looking for Mr. Gatfield's replacement and could have one named shortly.

Naked's fortunes have been mixed since being acquired in 2007 by Australia's Photon Group, which has undergone a broad corporate and financial restructuring to focus on a narrower group of core operations. Photon recently changed its name to Enero.

Ad Age 's DataCenter ranks the company No. 21 among the world's top 50 ad companies, with worldwide revenue of $339.9 million in the year ended June 2011, of which $331 million was outside the U.S. The company reported that it generated about 29% of fiscal-year 2011 revenue outside Australia.

In August, Enero reported a 34.5% drop in net revenue for 2012 to $ 232.57 million, and a net loss after tax of $147.27 million. The company has been aggressively shedding field marketing, point-of -sale, digital and other businesses. On a pro forma basis -- excluding the businesses that will no longer be part of Enero going forward -- fiscal 2012 revenue fell 4.5% to $153.46 million.

The company said in its earnings announcement "Naked Communications continues to be a work in progress with global management team reshaping the Naked offer to meet the needs of a digital media landscape. The current year was impacted by closures of non-core offices."

Since then, Naked has opened in Brazil, partnering with an existing agency to enable it to start working with clients immediately . Brazil partner and chief creative Fernanda "Fefa" Romano will be splitting her time between Naked's Sao Paulo office and New York, where she is leading the launch of a content offering for the U.S. operation.

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