Shop Likely To Start With $75 Million Tesco Account

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LONDON ( -- Lowe Worldwide founder Frank Lowe emerged from retirement today with the surprise announcement that he is setting up a new advertising agency with Paul Weinberger, who resigned as chairman of Lowe London. Mr. Weinberger is expected to take with him Lowe London’s biggest account, the $75 million Tesco supermarket business he has overseen for years.

Photo: Dave M. Benett
Frank Lowe is back in action three months after his Interpublic Group of Cos. non-compete agreement expired.
Surprise move
The unexpected move from the eccentric Mr. Lowe, who is 65, comes three months after the expiration of a non-compete agreement with Lowe parent Interpublic Group of Cos. that prevented him from taking Lowe staff or clients for two years after his retirement at the end of 2003.

A loss of Tesco would be a blow to Lowe, London, where the business accounts for about 10% of revenue. The agency is still suffering from account losses including Unilever’s Omo detergent, HSBC and Braun. Staff at the agency who earn more than $85,000 were recently asked to take a voluntary 10% pay cut.

Garry Lace, Lowe London’s chief executive, announced to staff this morning that Mr. Weinberger was leaving the agency. Other Lowe London staff are likely to follow him to Mr. Lowe’s new agency.

No comment
Lowe, London, and Tesco did not immediately return a call for comment. Mr. Lowe could not be reached.

"If Keith Richards can still play rock and roll then Frank might be able to do the same," said an Interpublic executive.

There has been speculation this year that Mr. Lowe was planning a comeback, either by attempting a management buyout of Lowe, or setting up his own shop to try to take Tesco. Those rumors were not taken too seriously, but Mr. Lowe is nothing if not unpredictable.

He started his own London agency, Lowe Howard-Spink, in 1981, and built Lowe into an international network, renamed Lowe & Partners in 1990. Interpublic, already a minority shareholder, bought the remaining 64.6% in 1990.

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