INTERNATIONAL: WSW to shut down Melbourne operations

MELBOURNE: Interpublic goliath Weber Shandwick Worldwide is to wind

down its Melbourne operations by the end of the year in a shock internal

announcement that was made last week.



Thirty-six staff are facing redundancy as the consultancy works to

transfer its international clients to Sydney, with the majority of local

business expected to migrate to other Melbourne firms.



Weber Shandwick Worldwide Asia-Pacific CEO Alison Clarke said the

decision was based upon the economic climate and a change in its

Australian strategy.



'We had our focal point in the wrong city. The bulk of international

clients, when they land in Australia, land in Sydney,' said Clarke.



German telecoms client Siemens is to transfer its account with the

consultancy from Melbourne to Sydney, where Nestle and Sony PlayStation

are major clients.



Clarke estimated the Sydney office would have a fee income of £2.8m at the start of next year with the consolidated business.



Melbourne managing director Steven Kerr is in negotiations and

considering 'a number of options', according to Clarke.



WSW is the fifth largest international agency in Australia with income

of £3.4m from both offices last year. Income dropped by 11 per

cent in Australia between 1999 and 2000.



The closure follows several reported retrenchments among international

consultancies in the country, including Australia's third largest

international agency, Burson-Marsteller.



Technology agency Brodeur Worldwide has announced it is to close its

Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore at the end of October, moving its

regional hub to Hong Kong as it refocuses on North Asia.



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