LONDON--James Acheson-Gray is departing Grayling after 18 years for a new role as UK MD at APCO Worldwide, the Holmes Report has learned.

Acheson-Gray was most recently international MD at Grayling, a role he held since the 2009 merger of Grayling, Trimedia and Mmd. Prior to that, he spent 18 months as Grayling UK MD, after nine productive years leading Grayling’s operations in Asia-Pacific.

At APCO, he takes charge of the independent firm’s UK presence, reporting to former UK MD Ed Walsh, who has now moved to a new role overseeing Europe .

At Grayling, Acheson-Gray was a member of the firm’s executive committee, focusing in particular on multi-market accounts - including leading Grayling's successful pitch for the British Airways earlier this year. He will begin at APCO next month.

Acheson-Gray’s departure follows the exits of two other senior European executives earlier this year: CEE MD Chris Dobson, and public affairs MD Stephen Lock

"We are delighted that James is joining APCO,” said APCO international president Brad Staples. “His brief is to continue to build London as a major international hub for our business. He has the right credentials to make this happen given his experience in managing the UK office and setting up the Asian operations of an international consultancy; a proven track record in winning and running blue-chip client relationships across multiple offices; and broader international expertise.”

Acheson-Gray’s appointment is the latest in a series of senior hires at APCO's London office. In July, former Edelman executive Michael Burrell was appointed APCO’s vice chairman of European public affairs. Last month Lionel Zetter joined APCO as a consultant in the London office. APCO acquired Eloqui PR, a London based corporate communication consultancy, in December 2010.

“I am pleased to be joining APCO at such an exciting time for the business," said Acheson-Gray. "The firm has an outstanding global reputation, but I was also attracted to its independent ownership structure; its track record of providing strategic insight through very senior advisors and industry experts; and its determination to define itself by the quality of service that it provides to its clients.”