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Sir Martin Sorrell vows to 'start again' after WPP departure


By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

May 8, 2018 | 3 min read

Sir Martin Sorrell has vowed to start again in the marketing industry and insists he will not be going into "voluntary or involuntary" retirement following his shock WPP exit.

Sorrell opens up on his departure

Sorrell opens up on his departure

Sorrell stood down as chief executive of the world's biggest advertising group after 33 years in April following a company investigation into undisclosed allegations of personal misconduct, which he denies.

Speaking today (8 April) at the Techonomy event in New York, Sorrell declined to go into detail about the mysterious reasons behind his departure but did offer some clues as to what he will do next.

"I am going to start again," he said when asked about his future plans.

"I am not going into voluntary or involuntary retirement."

The public appearance came a week after WPP's new hierarchy were forced to bat away questions about Sorrell's resignation at its first investor call without him at the helm.

At that meeting WPP's executive chairman Roberto Quarta again refused to explain what Sorrell had been investigated over, saying only: β€œThe matter surrounding personal misconduct – highlighting the word personal – is really what we consider to be a matter of privacy and therefore is a matter for Martin, and hence the reason why we did not disclose.”

Sorrell shed no further light on that matter today but did express a continued fondness for the marketing industry which was fuelling his desire to return.

"I love the industry," he said. "It was serendipity when I met the Saatchis in 1975. That was chance. I was looking for an industry where the barriers to entry were not significant. I thought they were very low and extremely open, Over the years since then that we've operated in, I found it an extremely attractive industry to make a career in.

"It is something I enjoy, I find the people engaging, sometimes difficult. The better the people, the more difficult they are."

Speaking of a difficult relationship, rival and Publicis figurehead Maurice Levy recently offered a barbed insult to his erstwhile counterpart.

"He may have been lacking in vision on occasion, yet I retain that he shaped a truly world-class group," said Levy.

Sorrell's exit shocked the industry and rocked WPP, where it has left senior execs jostling to succeed him as CEO.

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