LONDON — Nick Band, the former CEO of Band & Brown Communications and Brando, has set up an employee transfer marketplace to enable PR professionals to swap agencies and later return to their employer.

Band, who also launched PR agency Five Zero and brand building collective Berlin, said the venture, named Pimento People, was inspired by the football loan scheme that allows players to temporarily move to another club.

He told the Holmes Report: “A football team with too many forwards can put them out on loan for a season rather than sell. Having run an agency, I know what it’s like when you have to make good people redundant, because they are too expensive to keep but also too valuable to lose, then you win a big piece of work and regret it.

“The prevalent change in agencies from retainers to project work, and younger people coming into the industry who like to move around, also means much greater flexibility and fluidity is needed in the workforce.”

Under the Pimento People scheme, agencies and in-house departments will be able to offset staff costs by seconding them to another agency needing extra resources. After a set period the team or individual will return to their original agency. Transferred staff will still be legally employed by their original agency and bound by their contracts.

Pimento People has been launched in partnership with UK virtual agency network Pimento, which was set up in 2005 and now has 170 members. The scheme is being piloted within the network before being rolled out to a wider agency audience.

Jeremy Hemmings, a former M&C Saatchi senior manager and a consultant at Pimento People, said the loan scheme could prove to be a valuable tool for agencies re-shaping their operational models to meet the new dynamics of the agency market.

“In a trading environment as tough as it’s ever been, agencies are still carrying a huge salary overhead without the confirmed future revenue to support it. By seconding under-utilised staff they will see an immediate reduction in variable costs but enjoy the option of bringing them back when times improve,” he said.

Pimento People also offers a more conventional freelance placement service which matches independent contractors with agencies needing support.