Melbourne, Australia: Weber Shandwick Worldwide will wind down its
Melbourne operations by the end of the year, according to an internal
announcement made last week.
Thirty-six staffers face layoffs as the agency works to transfer
international clients to Sydney, with the majority of local business
expected to migrate to other Melbourne firms.
WSW Asia-Pacific CEO Alison Clarke said the decision was based on the
economic climate and a change in the company's 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 telecom client Siemens will 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 $4
million 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 $4.8 million from both offices last year. Overall PR income
dropped by 11% in Australia between 1999 and 2000.
The closure follows several reported cuts among international
consultancies in the country, including Australia's third-largest
international agency, Burson-Marsteller.