NEWS22 February 2010

Media Square chairman Roger Parry sets July departure date

People UK

UK— Roger Parry has called time on his stint as non-executive chairman of Media Square, saying he plans to step down from the role after the marketing services group’s AGM in July.

Parry was brought in as executive chairman in the summer of 2007 to lead a turnaround of the business, which he said had run off course because of “an over-aggressive acquisition strategy, an under-managed operational integration effort and years of corporate confusion”.

Over three years Parry led a reorganisation and restructure of the group that condensed more than 40 business units down to 10 main agencies – including research agency Illuminas – while the annual costs of central overheads was cut from more than £6m to around £2m.

In a statement this morning Parry said he was “delighted with the success of the turnaround” while acknowledging that the recent recession has made for “a very challenging trading environment”.

For the six months ended 31 August 2009, Media Square’s turnover was down 30% year-on-year to £44.9m while revenue fell 25% to £24.3m. Headline operating loss was £1.5m compared to £2m profit in 2008.

Latterly Parry’s role in the company has come under threat. In November a group of shareholders collectively owning around 5% of the group called for a general meeting to vote on removing Parry from the board, though their meeting request was denied. Days later, however, the company announced that Parry would move to the role of non-executive chairman, with Peter Reid taking the post of CEO.

Meanwhile in the summer of 2009 Parry led the board and management of Media Square in its opposition to attempts by Peter Lynch, executive chairman of investor Prime Active Capital (PAC), to gain a seat on the company’s board. Though Lynch later withdrew his directorship bid, PAC has recently increased its holding in Media Square from 21% to 28.5%.

A search is already under way to find a successor to Parry.