Ex-British Gas director linked to JWT chief role

Former British Gas marketing director Nick Smith has been linked to the JWT London chief executive role.

Currently at consultancy group Accenture, as the group managing director for its marketing sciences, Smith is understood to be in talks with the WPP-owned agency and is tipped as the front-runner for the job. The news follows the recent announcement that Alison Burns would be leaving to go to JWT New York.

Toby Hoare, JWT executive chairman, did not confirm who he was in talks with, adding that there were still “two to three candidates” in the frame.

Smith has more than 20 years experience in marketing, and has also previously worked for Alliance & Leicester, Sekonda and Heinz. In his most recent role, he joined Accenture Marketing Sciences in 2006.

Prior to that, he was marketing director at British Gas and was subsequently replaced by Amanda Mackenzie in November 2005. He had left the utilities group without a job to go after his role was reduced from overseeing marketing and advertising functions to strategy alone. Smith has denied he is talks with JWT.

Burns, meanwhile, is expected to take on the new role of global client services director for JWT at the beginning of the year and will work with clients such as Diageo, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark and Nestlé.

The official announcement of her departure was made in September and followed months of speculation that she would head back to the US, despite repeated denials from the agency and Burns himself (MW April 13).

It is also understood that following the replacement of Burns, the London agency will appoint a new managing director.

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