Huntsworth rationalises brands after reporting PR revenue fall

Huntsworth today announced it plans to reorganise its 26 brands into four - Grayling, Citigate, Red and Huntsworth Health - after reporting a 8.4 per cent organic revenue decline in its public relations business during the first six months of 2009.

Huntsworth chief executive: Lord Chadlington
Huntsworth chief executive: Lord Chadlington

The new Grayling will be full service agency - leveraging off the strength of Trimedia in the UK and Western Europe and Mmd in Eastern Europe. Representing 44 per cent of group revenues, Grayling will be a worldwide top three independent brand. Trimedia and Mmd will lose their brand names. Haslimann Taylor will also be integrated into Grayling, but as an internal competition shop.

Huntsworth will look to grow its Citigate financial PR brand internationally to take on FD and Brunswick as a global market leader. Under a new holding company, the firm will expand into key financial centres within 18 months through start-ups, investment programmes and using its existing network operations.

As one of the UK consumer market's leading names, Red will continue under its own name, due in large part to its ‘unique culture', and will expand overseas in the coming years.

It is not yet clear how certain brands - notably financial comms agency Hudson Sandler, corporate advisory shop Quiller or Asia Pacific and Middle East specialists Momentum - fit into the structure.

Peter Chadlington, chief executive of Huntsworth, said he will discuss with the brands' respective managements over the coming weeks how best to position the agencies. He said: ‘We want to flexible and are not going to force them into anything they do not want to go into.'

He said that the move was aimed at responding to client demand for seamless global service and he hopes the new structure will enable Huntsworth firms to win high value global mandates - something, with the exception of Huntsworth Health, they have yet to achieve.

Huntsworth announced its public relations revenue dropped to £54.3m from 59.9 over the same period in 2009. The performance of its health division, which grew 7.9 per cent, limited Huntsworth's overall organic revenue decline to 4.2 per cent.
Group operating profits before central costs in the first half decreased by 12.7 per cent to £14.9m.
Chadlington said: ‘Given the challenging economic climate, we are pleased to report a good first half. With 90 per cent of 2009 revenues committed and the new business pipeline gaining momentum, we are on track to meet full year management expectations. We have also made excellent progress on the group's strategic branding initiative which we believe will enable us to compete for, and win, the type of large international mandates that will drive the top line growth of the business.'

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