LONDON — Zeno Group’s managing director of Europe, Steve Earl, is leaving the firm after six years to become London managing director of APCO Worldwide.

He replaces James Acheson-Gray, who left APCO at the end of last year and is one of the founding partners of new corporate consultancy Apella.

Earl founded Zeno’s operations in Europe and played a leading role in the acquisition of 3 Monkeys to create 3 Monkeys Zeno in January 2016. He starts work for APCO on 1 July, reporting to Claire Boussagol, president of APCO in Europe.

He started his career as a regional news reporter before joining the agency world, including a stint at Weber Shandwick, and then founding Rainier PR with Stephen Waddington (now MD of Metia) in 1998.

The business was sold to marketing agency Loewy in 2006 and the group's operations were merged in 2009 as Speed Communications, with Earl and Waddington as joint managing directors. They both left Speed in 2012, with Earl going to Zeno and Waddington joining Ketchum.

Earl told the Holmes Report: “Zeno was a massive ride but it’s time to take on a different type of challenge. APCO being independent was a big consideration for me as it allows you to do things you can’t do in a network – it was irresistible.”

He said he would initially be focused on accelerating growth, and making the UK a bigger component of the global APCO network: “There are great people and great clients, but it can do even more: it’s not yet punching at the weight it needs to. It also needs to be a more prominent player in the London market, and to be more assertive about getting more UK-based companies on the roster.”

Boussagol added: “I am delighted to welcome Steve to lead APCO’s London office during such a critical period for the UK, Europe and the global marketplace, especially given the projected instability and uncertainty in a post-Brexit world. Steve and the excellent existing team, currently led by joint deputy MDs Alex Bigland and Polly Kennedy, are ideally placed to provide counsel and expertise to help clients understand how to succeed in the market during these times of extreme complexity.”

Earl joins the firm during APCO’s 35th anniversary since it was founded by executive chairman Margery Kraus. The agency is still independent, with nearly 800 employees in more than 30 markets.

At Zeno, CEO Barby Siegel told the Holmes Report: "Steve has been a driving force in helping Zeno to establish and grow our presence in Europe. We thank Steve for all that he has done, and wish him the very best as he begins his next chapter." 

She said Zeno did not discuss specific talent or hiring plans, but added: "We have a strong senior team in place that will continue to move our business forward."