Boots marketing chief Ann Francke has been ousted in a restructure after less than a year in the job.
Her departure comes in the middle of an advertising review that threatened WPP Group’s hold on the retailer’s £80m marketing services business.
Former Procter & Gamble and Masterfoods marketer Francke, who joined Boots in February, was due to oversee final pitches from teams led by Abbott Mead Vickers. BBDO, Mother, Publicis and incumbent J Walter Thompson in November.
Her position is now likely to be taken by chief operating officer David Kneale, who has been made chief commercial officer under the new structure, with responsibility for trading, marketing and formats.
Boots chief executive Richard Baker is understood to have been dismayed by the lack of hardened retailers at head office and is on the hunt for someone to fill the role of retail director. It is this focus on the retail operation that is thought to have weighed against Francke, who comes from a traditional packaged goods marketing background.
Francke’s departure throws into doubt the future of her recent hiring Mark Johnson, former Masterfoods European marketing director for flagship brands Pedigree and Whiskas, who joined Boots on Monday.
He joined as retail marketing director in place of Colin Webb, whose future at the company is also unclear (MW September 25). Louise Righton, head of brand marketing, and part of a five-strong team overseeing the pitch that included Webb and Francke, is also leaving the company, having taken voluntary redundancy.
A Boots spokesman maintains that Francke left as part of a restructure designed “to simplify and focus the leadership of the business”.
The spokesman declines to say whether another marketer will be appointed in place of Francke.News, page 11