Steve Richards, who has been in charge of the flagship Procter & Gamble and Mars accounts at Grey in London, has been appointed as the agency's managing director.
He will have day-to-day command of the shop, which claims billings of pounds 395 million, freeing Tim Mellors, the chief creative officer, and Martin Smith, the newly arrived chief executive, to concentrate on broader client issues and new business.
His promotion is intended to help the agency realise its aim of balancing its client roster more evenly between globally aligned FMCG business and more London-led lifestyle accounts.
Richards moves from heading the so-called Yellow Grey, one of the five colour-coded 'agencies within an agency', which handles brands including Lenor, Fairy Liquid, Bold, Pedig-ree Masterfoods and COI Communications.
'Steve is right for the job because he has tremendous knowledge of the way Grey and its clients work,' Smith said. 'He will now be able to concentrate on managing and improving the internal processes to allow Tim and I more time to develop the external face of the agency.'
Richards, 41, has experience of running large pieces of international business in a career spanning 20 years and three major agency groups.
He began his agency career in J. Walter Thompson's finance department in 1982 before moving into account management and rising to board director with responsibilities for Kraft Jacobs Suchard, Esso and Kellogg.
After 18 months at McCann- Erickson, Richards rejoined JWT as its Mexico-based regional director for Latin America, moving on to JWT in San Francisco to run Sprint. He joined Grey in April 1997.
Richards said: 'My job is to make sure that our set-up works properly in order for us to take on new business and that we're as strong, fit, lean and efficient as we can be.'