Sodexho stages pitch but at reduced fee

Catering and support services giant Sodexho is staging a pitch for a UK PR contract spanning corporate, consumer, B2B and trade work.

Four agencies - Lexis PR, Nexus Communications, Counsel and Citigate Communications - pitched for the work this week, with an appointment expected within seven days.

Burson-Marsteller has handled corporate and B2B PR for Sodexho for almost 20 years but declined to repitch, citing the reduced fees offered in the repitched contract.

Sodexho head of press and PR Clare Collins, who is co-ordinating the hiring process, confirmed fees have been cut to 'around £150,000', understood to be at least £50,000 down on B-M's contract.

B-M UK chief executive Allan Biggar said: 'We felt we were unable to deliver the required services to our standards within the budget stipulated.'

Collins said: 'We are going through a massive change management programme - within this value for money is a key criterion.'

Collins added that there were no plans to review the business of Sodexho's regional PR agencies, which are Citigate Communications for 'most UK regions', Cunningham & Co in Scotland and Weber Shandwick in Northern Ireland.

Sodexho's UK business was known as Gardner Merchant until 2000, despite having been acquired by global group Sodexho Alliance five years previously.

Collins, who reports to marketing and communications director Phil Hooper, said: 'Gardner Merchant was synonymous with catering. The firm is increasingly keen to the develop the support services side, such as cleaning and reception work, and part of this PR brief is to boost awareness of the Sodexho name.'

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