Focus Wickes consumer and corporate pitch looms

DIY giant Focus Wickes has put its consumer and corporate PR account up for pitch.

A call for credentials has gone out within the past ten days and the successful agency will handle group corporate PR and consumer work for the Focus and Wickes brands.

The incumbent agency on both brands is Band & Brown, which has worked for the Focus chain since March 2000, and Focus and Wickes since it won a repitch one year ago.

The group's PR controller Anthea Fosti confirmed that a request for credentials had gone out, but said that the repitch was 'part of a natural review process'.

She said Band & Brown was in contention to secure a renewed contract, which is due to begin in February next year.

Focus is targeted at amateur DIY enthusiasts, where-as Wickes essentially targets professional craftsmen.

Fosti said a decision had not yet been reached as to the size of a potential shortlist but said pitches would be staged in January.

She said the budget, which she would not disclose, would be roughly the same as that currently handed to Band & Brown.

She said the group planned a PR programme, which would feature product placement, store launches, charity and community work.

Focus bought Do It All in August 1998. In September 2000, the group snapped up Wickes and the combined entity bought Great Mills three months later.

Do It All and Great Mills were subsequently merged into the Focus brand.

The contract of Hudson Sandler, the group's retained City PR agency, is not under review.

The head office for the group along with the Focus chain is in Crewe, Cheshire, whileWickes has its operational headquarters in Harrow, Middlesex.

The group attempted a £1bn stock-market flotation earlier this year but was forced to postpone it due to market conditions.

- The DIY Academy - an organisation which is backed by five DIY firms - this week hired Derby-based Paskett Public Relations to boost the take-up of its training courses.

The campaign is to target younger people, especially women, in a bid to spread the message that DIY is 'easy and enjoyable'. The organisation also aims to encourage people to attend DIY Academy courses.

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