Lowe Confirms Suspension of Lace

NEW YORK Lowe London CEO Garry Lace has been suspended while the agency investigates “certain matters that have come to the company’s attention,” the Interpublic Group shop confirmed on Friday.

The agency did not elaborate, but sources said Lowe and IPG were probing allegations that Lace met several times with former chairman Frank Lowe to discuss the agency’s Tesco account before Lowe launched his agency in December.

Lace, who could not be reached, was suspended indefinitely on Thursday [Adweek Online, March 2]. In a brief statement, Lowe also confirmed that Lace would continue to be paid.

“This action is consistent with the terms of Mr. Lace’s contract,” the statement said. “Lowe anticipates that the investigation will be concluded by the end of the month and will not be providing updates until after the investigation has been completed.” IPG had no immediate comment.

The suspension comes a week after IPG installed executive vice president Stephen Gatfield as worldwide CEO of Lowe, replacing Tony Wright, who shifted to chairman. In Lace’s absence, the London-based Wright and managing director Chris Hunton will lead the office, alongside executive creative director Ed Morris, the agency said.

A few days after Frank Lowe confirmed that he was opening an agency in London, Tesco said it was shifting its account from Lowe to the new shop [Adweek Online, Dec. 5]. Billings on the business are estimated at $80 million.

The shift was attributed to Frank Lowe’s long history with the client. The client move also came after Lowe London chairman Paul Weinberger resigned to join the new agency, now known as The Red Brick Road. Weinberger had steered the business at Lowe.

Frank Lowe, through a representative, said Friday that he made no overtures to Lace, declining further comment.

This story updates an item posted on March 2 with confirmation of Lace’s suspension and additional details.