IPG merges UK shops to revive Golin/Harris

Interpublic Group is to merge Golin/Harris International with its UK technology agency Weber Group in an attempt to reinvigorate the 50-year-old Golin brand.

The two agencies will merge next month to create a new brand, Golin/Harris Weber, which will be led by G/H UK managing director Barry Leggetter and Weber MD Zoe Arden as joint MDs.

Leggetter confirmed there would be ‘a number of redundancies’ within G/H as a result of the merger, which creates a 40-strong operation with combined fee income understood to total up to £5m.

Despite the redundancies, Arden said: ‘We see this as an opportunity to re-energise the G/H brand in the UK.’

Sources close to the merger suggest the deal will also create a stronger ‘conflict’ brand to sister agency Weber Shandwick, enabling G/H to take on clients WS cannot handle due to conflict of interest issues.

G/H president Fred Cook said the UK merger is the first step in a worldwide agency revamp and towards rekindling an expansion strategy that was put on hold last year in view of market conditions.

Cook said: ‘You’re going to see G/H become a much more visible and stronger brand,’ adding that changes are set for Europe, in particular Spain, and Asia. A senior IPG source added that Germany is also a priority.

The G/H UK team has been significantly eroded in the last two years. From a 40-strong team in 2001, it will now contribute just 15 staff to the new agency.

Staff cuts are understood to stem from a merger in 2001 of the agency’s financial team with sister City firm Weber Shandwick Square Mile, tough trading conditions, and the redundancies caused by this latest merger.

The move follows last week’s announcement by IPG of a net loss of £5.4m in the first quarter of this year.

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