French firm Steria plans agency overhaul for UK

French IT company Steria, best known as a supplier of groundbreaking facial recognition technology, is to overhaul its UK agency backing.

The company is believed to be on the verge of shifting the business out of its incumbent, Pleon, and handing it to Firefly Communications. Steria is understood  to have held talks with six agencies, but Firefly is expected to be confirmed as Steria's new UK agency from next month.

The contract is likely to be worth at least £100,000.

Steria head of comms David Pickering said the company had ‘undertaken a strategic review of our communications'.
He declined to comment on which agency would win the brief, saying: ‘We have just finished the pitching stage but nothing has been signed off with any agencies.'

Firefly MD Mark Mellor confirmed the agency had held talks with Steria, but declined to comment further. Pleon likewise declined to comment on the review.

The contract is believed to span UK corporate and B2B comms for Steria, and consists of a three-pronged campaign to target national, trade and business media.

Steria is one of Europe's largest systems providers. It broke into the UK market four years ago when it bought IT firm Integris. It now works with police forces in Britain and Germany to develop its biometric security systems, which can help to identify suspects in minutes rather than months. The Bavarian police used its technology at various stadia during the World Cup.

The company also works in the UK for the British Army, airports operator BAA, and Northern Rock, for which it provides secure payment services, network management and e-security packages.

Founded in 1969 in France, Steria made headlines last year via its acquisition of Germany's Mummert Consulting for €82m.

It now has a presence in 12 European countries and employs more than 9,000 staff; 1,800 of those are in the UK.

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