WPP to Leave London Headquarters After More Than 30 Years

Move seen as a post-Sorrell refresh

The building was formerly home to J. Walter Thompson. Getty Images
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

The world’s largest holding group is set to abandon its small, quaint space in London’s West End.

The move comes more than three decades after WPP officially set up shop at 27 Farm Street, Mayfair, and four months after the abrupt departure of CEO and chairman Martin Sorrell.

Campaign first broke the news this morning, and a WPP spokesperson confirmed that story’s accuracy this afternoon but declined to elaborate.

Co-COOs Mark Read and Andrew Scott, who have been running the network since Sorrell officially resigned in April, made the announcement in a memo that went out to a small group of U.K.-based leaders within the network earlier today.

According to the note as recounted by Campaign, Read and Scott want to choose a more modern location for WPP in the interest of both aesthetics and operational efficiency. While the two do not reportedly have a final destination chosen, they plan to relocate the small team of executives that had worked out of 27 Farm Street to Sea Containers, the modern complex on London’s South Bank that has been home to Ogilvy U.K. since 2016.

Sorrell stepped down amid an internal investigation into allegations of “personal misconduct” and misuse of company assets. News of that probe was broken by The Wall Street Journal, which later reported on claims that Sorrell had spent corporate funds on a prostitute. Sorrell “strenuously” denied those rumors and denied all claims of wrongdoing during an appearance at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this summer, telling author Ken Auletta that “it’s not true.”

The now-former CEO’s reported fondness for Farm Street may not have been a key factor in the decision, but it will inevitably inspire observers to speculate about WPP looking to move beyond the Sorrell era.

Read, who is also CEO of the Wunderman organization, has reportedly become the top candidate to replace Sorrell when WPP announces its financial results for the first half of 2018 next month. He wrote company-wide memos to reassure staff following Sorrell’s departure and the subsequent claims made against him.

Sky News, which first reported on Sorrell leaving WPP in April, also published a story on Saturday claiming that IBM executive David Kenny, who leads that company’s AI and cloud technology division, had been interviewed as another potential chief executive.

Sorrell most recently made headlines when his new venture, S4 Capital, outbid the company he ran for 33 years to acquire international production company MediaMonks for approximately $350 million.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.