Lowe London in full-scale crisis

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[London] Interpublic Group of Cos. Chairman-CEO Michael Roth flew to the U.K. last week to deal with a crisis at Lowe Worldwide's London office sparked by management and client defections. Last week Lowe lost its Nestle Rowntree business to JWT as the marketer switched five brands to the WPP Group agency in a consolidation of its $42 million U.K. account. Over the last two years, Lowe London has lost much of its General Motors Corp. and Unilever business, and suffered from the network's global losses of HSBC and Braun. Neil Ducray, Nestle's U.K. marketing director, said, "We wanted one consolidated team and JWT has been particularly strong. Lowe remains a global roster agency and this is not a reflection on Lowe's performance." Lowe's Nestle work will run until the end of 2005. In a controversial move, Lowe London last month hired Garry Lace, who left his job as chief executive of Grey London under a cloud last year, to replace Matthew Bull as chief executive. Mr. Bull himself was brought in less than two years ago to turn the agency around. Widespread speculation about the stability of Lowe's management and clients forced the agency to put out a statement saying that both Mr. Weinberger and U.K. supermarket chain Tesco, one of Lowe's largest remaining clients, would stay.Three other Lowe executives quit: Managing Director Mark Cadman, Planning Director Russ Lidstone and New Business Director Matt Edwards.
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