Underwired co-founder Felix Velarde departs following Gratterpalm integration

Felix Velarde, co-founder of London-based agency Underwired has left the agency following its transition into new parent company Gratterpalm.

Velarde, who became chief executive of the CRM and multichannel agency in 2001, and latterly chairman last August, helped oversee Underwired's integration into Gratterpalm following its acquisition last November.

Underwired and Gratterpalm count Asda, Greggs, P&G, Magners, Halfords, Travelodge, DFS and ESPN among their combined clients and at the end of 2014 reported a combined fee income of £12m.

Velarde told The Drum he was “delighted” at the agency’s sucessful integration which he described as “smooth” and “ripple-free”.

“I’ve been involved with Underwired since 2001 when we started out on the CRM journey with the first (of many) Virgin clients. We brought in John Thew as managing director 18 months ago so I could focus on multidiscipline, multi-agency relationships.

"The transition has been brilliantly smooth, and I’m really proud of the team. Gratterpalm is an awesome agency, with clients who love them and a culture that’s really fabulous. The future is bright!"

Gordon Bethell, group chairman at Gratterpalm said: "Felix has made a great contribution to Underwired, one which the teams here at Gratterpalm and at Underwired will be able to build on even further, and we wish him every success for the future. It goes without saying that Gratterpalm and Underwired will work closely together to ensure a smooth transition for both colleagues and clients."

Velarde will have several months off before re-entering the agency world. Future plans could centre on a role which will see him draw on experience in bringing together independent agencies around a core proposition that clients buy. “I’m a marketing evangelist, and I love what I do, so I’m looking forward to whatever the future holds,” he added.

The acquisition was advised by Green Square, Gordons Brown Butler and Lewis Silkin.

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