Royal Mail Group managing director of media Jonathan Harman has left the postal giant by mutual consent as part of a major restructure which has triggered a raft of departures within the business unit.
The shake-up comes just days after Royal Mail issued yet another warning over a decline in business letter volumes, which sent its share price to its lowest level since privatisation in October 2013.
Having spent his career agency side at the likes of Rapp, Claydon Heeley, RMG and Carlson, Harman joined Royal Mail in 2012 as managing director of MarketReach but has since also taken on responsibility for the retail letters business, data, marketing and innovation.
It is understood that over a dozen roles will be axed as part of the restructure, which will see Harman succeeded by Stephen Agar. He has been at the company over a decade, most recently as managing director of consumer and network access.
Over the past six and a half years, Harman has been instrumental in launching a host of initiatives designed to ensure direct mail can hold its own against the digital marketing onslaught.
One of his first tasks was to commission an 18-month indepth research project resulting in the Private Life of Mail study, which provided insight into the role of mail in people’s homes and the impact this has on advertisers’ ROI. This was backed by the Mailmen marketing campaign featuring senior clients and agency chiefs.
Harman has also forged stronger links with the DMA, the IDM, the Advertising Association, and even D&AD.
And under his leadership, MarketReach has also launched price incentives for first-time mail users, programmatic mail, the MailToolkit, the Jicmail audience measurement scheme and is now testing “Partially Addressed Mail”, a GDPR-compliant, standard addressed direct mail product with new customer targeting options.
One industry source said: “Jonathan will be a hard act to follow. Quite simply, he got it. He understood the market and especially the need to build a strong business case to get clients to reconsider direct mail. At any other time, the market would be booming, but the perfect storm of Brexit and GDPR is proving highly challenging.”
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