The remaining two founders, chief govt David Kershaw and chairman Jeremy Sinclair, may also go away by the tip of the 12 months after a significant accounting bungle took some shine off the celebrated company and brought about its share worth to tumble.
His departure marks the tip of an period in British promoting, the place Muirhead, Kershaw and Sinclair – identified in London because the “three amigos” – as soon as loomed massive with the agency’s different two founders, brothers Maurice and Charles Saatchi.
Muirhead, 74, was making ready to depart over the following few years anyway however the firm’s accounting errors accelerated his plans to higher divide his time between Britain and Australia.
“We’re all getting fairly historic and had deliberate to depart sooner or later, however not notably in the best way it has occurred,” Muirhead says of the previous guard.
“I really feel actually assured and good about the way forward for the corporate as a result of we set about placing the enterprise again within the form it wanted to be.
“We did not run away, it occurred on our watch and it was our duty to remain and type it out and that is what we have achieved.”
Muirhead, presumably the best-connected Australian in London by means of his affiliation with senior enterprise and cultural figures, additionally serves as South Australia’s agent basic within the UK and Europe – a place he has held since 2007.
Muirhead squirms on the suggestion he is perhaps one in every of Australia’s most influential expats.
“That is not true and I do not know why folks say that,” he says. “Possibly it is only a perform of getting previous. In the long run, should you dangle round lengthy sufficient you find yourself understanding and assembly plenty of fascinating folks.”
When Maurice and Charles Saatchi misplaced management of their gigantic agency Saatchi and Saatchi within the 1990s, Muirhead, Kershaw and Sinclair resigned and the 5 males began M&C Saatchi.
Saatchi and Saatchi – which Muirhead at one level ran – coined the well-known slogan ‘Labour Is not Working’ which helped propel Margaret Thatcher to victory on the 1979 election.
Muirhead and his companions would additionally assist John Main and David Cameron surf to victory at basic elections.
Charles Saatchi, who was photographed along with his arms across the neck of his then-wife Nigella Lawson in 2013, offered out in 2006.
Maurice Saatchi stop M&C final December after an audit discovered the corporate had overstated its earnings by a minimum of £11.6 million ($21.1 million).
Three non-executive administrators – Lord Michael Dobbs, the creator of the Home of Playing cards trilogy; Sir Michael Peat, a former principal non-public secretary to Prince Charles; and Lorna Tilbian, a outstanding British media determine – additionally left on the similar time.
In a word to workers late final week, Muirhead, Kershaw and Sinclair stated the time had come for them, too, to stop.
“The corporate has achieved work that modified the world – in politics, arts, society and naturally, enterprise,” the trio stated.
M&C’s Australian arm has a raft of high-profile company shoppers together with Tourism Australia, Commonwealth Financial institution, Woolworths, Optus and TAB. Muirhead insists the Australian department will thrive in his absence.
“We have very robust administration there in Australia and I am nonetheless an enormous shareholder and haven’t any intention of promoting my shares. I’ll proceed to do all I can to assist the corporate, despite the fact that I will not be a direct a part of it.”
Muirhead had deliberate to fly to Adelaide on Sunday however his flight was cancelled after a small variety of coronavirus instances pressured a statewide shutdown. He hopes to get there earlier than December and can spend Christmas along with his household earlier than leaving M&C Saatchi’s Soho headquarters for the ultimate time in March.
“To have seen the corporate go from nothing – just a bit sheet of paper – to the place it’s now could be superb. So sure, leaving is somewhat bit unhappy however you have to transfer on and it was time for us to go.
“It is proper for the corporate and you have to have new folks in and do new issues.
“Whenever you create an organization, it does really feel like your child. It is part of us and I have been with the corporate in its totally different varieties for a really very long time. We have all felt very pleased with it.”
Bevan Shields is the Europe correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.