Stack chief executive Ben Stephens is stepping down from the MSQ agency after six years in charge to pursue the “next challenge”, leaving with a glowing endorsement from group CEO Peter Reid.
Stephens, one of the most highly respected figures in the industry, joined the business in January 2015, succeeding Liz Wilson. A year earlier, Stack had rebranded from CMW, which itself was a rebrand from Clark Mackay Walpole, first launched in the mid-Nineties.
He started his career in 1989 at FKB Carlson, then had spells at BBH’s direct marketing agency, Limbo, Tequila Payne Stracey, and Rapier before joining forces with Neil Francis and Chris Whitson to launch Stephens Francis Whitson in 2005, with backing from VCCP.
Francis quit after seven years when the agency was merged with Tree and rebranded as VCCP Me; he was followed by Whitson in 2013. Stephens eventually stepped down in 2014 and joined Stack eight months later.
Since taking up the role, he has overseen the integration of Stack within the MSQ group, leading to closer collaboration between sister agencies, especially The Gate, on a number of new business wins, including Government roster accounts, Hertz, Mamas & Papas, Imperial Tobacco vaping brand Blu, and Anusol owner Church & Dwight.
MSQ recently revealed that more than 80% of its total revenue from the London hub is now derived from clients which work across the agencies in the group.
At Stack, Stephens will be succeeded by former client services director Nicola Nimmo, who was promoted to managing director in November last year.
Stephens said: “I came to MSQ six years ago to re-establish Stack as a customer acquisition and engagement agency, get it working really well with its sister agencies, and play my part in helping prepare MSQ for its next chapter, culminating in the new investment from LDC in May 2019.
“It’s exactly 25 years since I launched my first agency and now really is the time for me to take that experience and use it in a different way, so I’m bowing out and looking for my next challenge.
“I leave Stack in the extremely capable hands of Nic, with whom I have worked so closely for the past four years. She has a wonderful team around her and there are great things happening with MSQ that will only strengthen the agency’s capabilities into 2021.”
MSQ chief executive Reid added: “I’d like to thank Ben for everything he’s done during his time at MSQ and wish him all the best in the future. He’s been a huge part of MSQ’s success in recent years, not just in driving Stack forward but in helping MSQ develop as one of the UK’s fastest-growing marketing groups.
“He leaves Stack in great shape following the appointment of Nicola as managing director last year and with a powerful new proposition in place. He’ll be providing continuity and support in the short-term to ensure the agency continues to supply the very best service to clients and, I hope, even after that, he won’t be a stranger.”
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