London-based Smith and Milton Ltd has gone into liquidation and its founder Howard Milton is focusing on Bristol-based business Smith & Milton Brand Ltd.
The restructuring has followed a period of resignations at management level over the last few months.
Group creative director Steven Anderson, managing director Ben Mott, client services director Howard Swift and creative director Tony Stiles made up the management team and were all minority shareholders.
The management team was unable to come to an agreement with the majority shareholders, Jay Smith and Howard Milton, over the future direction of the business. This is confirmed by both Milton and a source close to the management team.
The source says that there have been further resignations, although Howard Milton says that these have taken place over a long period and are not linked with the management dispute.
The source also claims that some staff have not been paid – a claim which Milton denies – and that some creditors have not been paid, although Milton says that every effort has been made to pay them “as best we could.”
Both Milton and the source say that the loss of its Legal and General account preceded the breakdown in discussions over the future of the business.
Swift and Styles ran the Bristol side of the consultancy, which was formerly known as Document. It was bought by Smith and Milton in 2012 and operated as Smith & Milton Bristol Ltd from 2012-2016. Last week its name was changed to Smith and Milton Brand Ltd.
Milton says the new Bristol business is now being run by Rob Wade and Keshi Bouri who are “doing a great job at building brands and ensuring that creativity remains at the core of the business.”
Milton says: “The long-term plan for the business has always been to build the Bristol company and eventually merge London into it. The need to close Smith & Milton Ltd was pre-empted by a number of factors, including the loss of one of the London office’s biggest accounts, the Legal & General business.
“Smith & Milton Ltd and Smith & Milton Brand Ltd in Bristol are separate companies and have been run individually since 2011 when we bought the majority of an existing agency. It was only in November that Jay Smith and I gained 100% control over the Bristol company, which is now thriving, so it made business sense to focus on that.”
The closure of Smith & Milton’s London office has led to the redundancy of its three remaining staff.