WPP regroups into big new Toronto HQ – Read’s bid for top job grows stronger

WPP doesn’t seem to be planning to break itself up anytime soon, it’s just agreed to become the anchor tenant in a big new development on Toronto’s waterfront.

It’s planning to instal about 2000 people in 260,000 sq ft of new space, housing 19 Canadian WPP companies.

Interim co-COO Mark Read says; “The Toronto co-location allows proximity for all the group’s people in a building that will be state-of-the-art in terms of technology infrastructure.”

The move mirrors WPP’s move into the Rivierstaete building in Amsterdam two years ago.

All the big agency groups are looking hard at such moves, reckoned to be a way of cutting back office costs as well as bringing agencies closer together. Omnicom’s diverse portfolio of agencies in the UK is now mostly grouped in a big new HQ on Southwark Street on London’s South Bank and Publicis Groupe is moving its media agencies into the BBC’s old production HQ in White City, west London.

At the same time opinion seems to be hardening that COO Read is likely to get the top job at WPP, at least according to the Wall Street Journal. According to the WSJ Hamish McLennan, former boss of Y&R and also a senior TV executive in his native Australia, is no longer in the running.

WPP reports its delayed Q2/half time numbers on September 4, way after its main competitors, and a decent performance from WPP will improve Read’s chances. Omnicom and Publicis have helped his cause with disappointing results although Interpublic beat the odds with 5.6 per cent organic growth in Q2.

If Read does get the top job he may also be looking for a new London HQ. WPP head office is located in a town house in Mayfair, the fiefdom of departed CEO Sir Martin Sorrell, now running rival firm S4 Capital.

Update

WPP is to create a campus in Prague, bringing together 12 of its agencies under one roof. The new office at Prague, Bubenská 1, will be extensively renovated and house up to 1500 of WPP people.

Might WPP be thinking of doing the same in New York and London. In London its agencies are scattered all over the capital. But where would they go? Publicis Media has already nabbed the old BBC HQ at White City.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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