Moray MacLennan, CEO of M&C Saatchi, has decided to retire, marking an end to his 40-year-long journey across various roles within the Saatchi brand.
Zillah Byng-Thorne, the former CEO of Future and the current non-executive chair of M&C Saatchi, will take on the role of executive chair temporarily from 1 September, following MacLennan's departure at the end of the month.
MacLennan joined Saatchi as a trainee in 1983 and has been serving as the agency’s UK CEO since January 2021. By the mid-90s, he had become managing director and was part of the founding team of M&C Saatchi in 1995, which included Maurice and Charles Saatchi.
MacLennan expressed his mixed feelings about his decision, stating, “As I approach 40 years of Saatchi in many ways it feels like precisely the wrong time to move on, but I have decided it is precisely the right time.” He praised M&C Saatchi's impressive turnaround and stated, “now is the right time to make way for new energy and new ideas."
This decision follows a challenging period for the company, with several failed buyout attempts by Next15 and majority shareholder Vin Murria in the past 18 months.
Campaign reports that the departure was friendly, but it does trigger an unplanned transition period for M&C Saatchi, which aims to appoint a new CEO within the next 12 months.
An M&C Saatchi spokesperson commended Byng-Thorne's appointment, highlighting her extensive experience in media and technology businesses. They said, “Her breadth of her experience across executive and non-executive roles, combined with transformation and digital expertise, mean she is well placed to work with the wider board and steward M&C Saatchi’s next phase.”