WPP has named Mark Read as its chief executive after a period as joint chief operating officer, succeeding Sir Martin Sorrell who departed in April.
Read, who held the post of global chief executive of Wunderman until stepping up alongside Andrew Scott to helm the company while a successor was sought, has long been the front-runner for the role, even before the resignation of Sorrell.
Today, WPP confirmed the appointment after four months of searching, also adding him to the board of WPP as executive director.
Roberto Quarta, Chairman of WPP, said: “The Board carried out a rigorous selection process, assessing internal and external candidates. That process, alongside Mark’s wise and effective stewardship of the business in the last few months, left us with no doubt that he is the right leader for this company, and we are delighted to announce the Board’s unanimous decision to appoint him as chief executive officer of WPP.
“Recognised for his leadership throughout the industry, he has an intimate understanding of the business, he enjoys very strong internal support, and he has earned the respect and endorsement of our clients with his constant focus on their needs. He has played a central role in many of WPP’s most successful investments and initiatives, and he has deep experience at board and operational level. Most recently, Mark led the transformation of Wunderman into one of the world’s top digital agencies, and he understands the importance of culture in creating successful organisations. In short, he is in every way a 21st-century CEO," he added.
Quarta has has resumed his role as non-executive chairman as Read is appointed.
Read, said: “Our industry is going through a period of structural change, not structural decline, and if we embrace that change we can look ahead to an exciting and successful future. Our mission now is to release the full potential that exists within the company for the benefit of our clients, to accelerate our transformation and simplify our offering, and to position WPP for stronger growth.
“To achieve that we need to foster a culture that attracts the best and brightest: inclusive, respectful, collaborative, diverse. What makes our company special is its people, and I am very proud to have been given the chance to build a new WPP with them," added Read.
Details of his contract have also been revealed, including a tough non-compete clause. His annual salary will be £975,000 with a potential bonus of £250,000, up to 40% can be deferred into shares over a two year period and a benefits package of £35,000 within the contract, a substantially less lucrative deal than that of Sorrell in his final years.
Commenting on the news, Green Square's partner Barry Dudley, said: “Sir Martin is a unique character who ran WPP in the way that suited him, the simplest description may be ‘autocrat’. But even autocrats need impressive people around them and for Mark and Andrew to have been at Sir Martin’s side for so long is proof alone of their pedigree. Can Mark step into the CEO role? Without doubt and given the complexity of the group, its networks, geographies and all the vagaries that go with a people business, having someone that already knows this inside out seems obvious. Having said that, I suspect that one of the big things that Robert Quarta is grappling with is the FAMGA (Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon) factor – is there a need for someone from that world to perhaps bring new thinking and perspectives…time will tell!”
The next steps for Scott have also been revealed with him set to continue on the post of chief operating officer of WPP on a permanent basis and as a key member of the senior management team.