Following the announcement last week that Sophie Hicks was setting sail on her own, it has emerged that Ed Victor Limited has been reconfigured following a retirement and a second departure to launch a new business.
The moves, outlined in a letter sent by the eponymous founder and chairman to "clients, friends, associates, lawyers and bankers", have come about "quite suddenly" after a long period of stability, and they owe to a series of coincidental moves by key members of Victor's team. It was, he said, "an opportunity to rationalize".
"I'm very happy and very well," Victor assured. "These things play out over a period of time… Maggie [Phillips] announced her retirement after 33 years, Sophie left after 25 years, and Charlie Campbell will leave after 10. I'm never going to retire. I'm having too much fun… this is life. People want to move on. The company is leaner and meaner. I have no plans whatsoever to sell this business. I want to go on as long as I can. We make deal after deal for wonderful prices."
Few would ever doubt that Victor intends to remain in harness--his life and work are seamless, his clients are friends, as are the publishers with whom he does business: earlier this year he was on holiday in Thailand with Gail Rebuck and Steve Rubin--and many believe that for Hicks, succession issues may have been a problem, despite her closeness to Victor. Hicks herself would not be drawn, while Victor said: "I don't think Sophie felt blocked. Sometimes people want to go off on their own. The best thing I did in my life was to take ownership. Saying goodbye to Sophie is of course a wrench, but I'm sure she will have a great time as the captain of her own ship."
Campbell, who remains at EVL for the next two weeks, overlapping with Charlie Brotherstone (who joins from A.M. Heath to replace him), is due to announce his plans shortly. BookBrunch understands they are for "a hybrid agency" in which Julia Kingsford, previously of Foyles and most recently of World Book Night, will play a significant role.
Not all Campbell's clients will depart with him, for some of them came via Victor; they now have a choice to make. Brotherstone, like Campbell, will assist with Victor's clients while developing his own, as well as handling serial and film/TV rights within EVL's association with United Agents.
As to Phillips, "calm, amusing, witty, fabulous…the repository of all memory," she will take on a consultancy role following her retirement by the end of this year. "Therefore, we won't be deprived of her extensive knowledge of how our business runs and she will continue to make an important contribution to its day-to-day operations."
Thus, by the end of the year, Ed Victor Limited will have reduced its headcount from 14 to 10. Hitesh Shah, for almost two decades Finance Director of the agency, adds the role of MD to his brief. Edina Imrik, who worked with Hicks for 11 years as well as presiding over audio rights and Bedford Square, will take over Phillips' duties as Contracts Manager. Sarah Williams, who joined as Phillips' assistant, will leave at the end of June.
While all would be greatly missed, Victor said he "couldn't be happier with the size, scope and direction of the company as it is now configured". With Hicks' departure, there will be no attempt to recreate the children's division that she launched and developed with such flair. He wished both her and Campbell nothing but the best, waving them off like the proudest of parents.
"As you can see, quite a lot has changed," he concluded in his missive. "But what will not change is the level and the intensity of the focus we have on representing our clients as effectively as we possibly can during these tough times in the publishing business. EVL is now a leaner, meaner company, which I believe will be able to provide the very highest standard of service to its clients.
"Last, but I hope not least, I have absolutely no plans other than to continue to be at the center of this web, doing the job I have loved since I started the company in 1976. In case you were wondering, I will never, ever retire. I'm having too much fun!"