The Brandman Agency, which also has offices in New York, Los Angeles and Sydney, said the decision to downsize in London is due to the impact of COVID-19 on the global travel industry.
Melanie Brandman, the agency's founder and chief executive, said it continues to serve clients from London, but had to reduce the size of its UK team and take other measures to cut overhead costs.
“Our London operations have not ceased. Like many in the travel industry, COVID-19 has been very challenging for us and we have taken steps to ensure we can continue to support our clients on a global basis to the standards they have always expected,” she said.
“This has meant us taking the decision to close our physical office space but employ key executives in London. Reluctantly we had to let some team members go. We took advantage of the excellent UK government furlough arrangements in anticipation of a brief suspension of global travel. As we all know, the disruption has continued and will be with us, in my opinion, in some form for at least the next 12 months or more.”
Bandman said the economic impact of the pandemic on its business has been most acutely felt in London, where it had an office in Fulham. Teams in other markets have also been working remotely during the crisis, but the agency has retained physical offices in New York, LA and Sydney.
The Brandman Agency primarily serves hotels and resorts, including Marriott International, the Ritz-Carlton and Raffles in Singapore, as well as tourism bodies, such as Tourism Victoria, and Cathay Pacfic, among other airlines.
Brandman said the “seismic shifts in our world” had forced the agency to reassess its approach to business. One step it is taking is its new Brandman Partner Program.
This provides opportunities for senior-level practitioners in public relations, marketing, digital media and sales to join the agency’s global network through region-specific “hosted-startup relationships”.
Brandman said these relationships present a “low-cost, low-risk pathway for qualified individuals to operate independently with the support, network, infrastructure and track record of an established international firm”.
In recent weeks, several agencies specialising in sectors hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis have had to either scale back their operations, pause trading or, in severe cases, close down. These include hospitality specialists Gerber, which has paused operations, and WickerWood, which has entered administration.