Draft managing partners Watson and Taylor to quit

LONDON - Draft Worldwide is to part company with its managing partners, Tony Watson and Ian Taylor, only eight months after they joined through a merger with Lowe Live.

Although neither Watson nor Taylor were available for comment as Campaign went to press, the two are believed to have become dissatisfied with the change in culture of the agency after the merger.

Watson and Taylor set up Lowe Direct, later to become Lowe Live, in 1996, with their fellow GGT Direct employee Nick Young. All three had minority stakes in the company.

IPG's global below-the-line network, Draft Worldwide, had no serious presence in London, represented in the UK by offices in Oxford and Edinburgh. It merged with Lowe Live in the US in October 2001. A UK merger came last July, creating the sixth-largest direct agency in the country. However, around that time, Young left to pursue personal interests, leaving Watson and Taylor in charge.

Last week, it was announced that Sez Maxted, the Oxford office's managing director, and the majority of her team, would be incorporated into the London agency. Maxted joins as a managing partner.

Although there has been no decision regarding Watson and Taylor's departure date, it is thought that once they do leave at least one additional partner will arrive to join Maxted at the agency's helm.

Watson and Taylor's departure will surprise the DM community, especially in light of Draft Worldwide's recent new-business performance. In 2002, it won the COI Communications/Department of Work and Pensions business in partnership with Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners, and also strengthened its grip on the Telewest broadband account.

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