The regional director of Grey’s Saudi Arabia operation has denied rumours that the agency’s Riyadh office is in the process of closing down.
Marc Lawandos (pictured) confirmed that a number of staff had been made redundant and that more could follow, but said there were no plans to close the office. “These rumours are faster than the speed of light but the truth of the matter is that the Riyadh office will not be closing,” he said.
Lawandos declined to specify numbers but said the office’s headcount had to be reduced to cut costs in the wake of the economic downturn. “We have had to make some unfortunate decisions,” he said. “These guys work hard, they are dedicated and they invest a lot of time in our business.
“But the backbone [of the Riyadh office] was mainly real estate and finance and with the economic hit these guys froze their budgets, and accordingly we have had to lay off the teams working on those accounts.”
The Riyadh operation has been far worse hit by the financial crisis than the agency’s Jeddah office, whose portfolio is mainly in the FMCG sector.
Lawandos said attempts to diversify the client base of the Riyadh office were now under way, with a number of pitches being pursued. “We need to secure a significant win that would put us back on track but until then we may need to lose more people,” he said. “These guys are like a family to us so we give them options. If someone has an opportunity elsewhere he is welcome to leave.”
He added: “High expectations are set for post-Ramadan. We will just have to wait and see but we are working really hard to get some business in.”