Between the Lines: Hoare must prioritise the UK

Having been at JWT for almost three years, Toby Hoare is well placed to know what needs to be done to improve its performance (page 1).

As the new head of Europe, responsibility will fall directly to him to rebuild what is now a weakened London agency. Its relatively new chief executive, Alison Burns, will need all the support she can get in identifying the problems and devising their solutions.

The problems have been growing for some time. The agency has been slow to react, in part because for two years WPP was shifting accounts its way (Vodafone and B&Q). But more recently, client defections and a poor pitch conversion rate have exposed the agency's weaknesses.

And the right turnaround strategy is far from apparent. There are signs of weakness in its creative, strategic and account handling functions.

The agency needs a top-to-toe reassessment; there is no quick fix. New- business success will be essential, and Hoare's long experience with top-level clients should help.