Carat Group UK is to pool trading activities for its three main agencies in a move that will effectively create the UK’s largest buying point – worth more than £1 billion in billings.
With immediate effect, negotiations with major media owners for Carat, BBJ Media Services and Feather Brooksbank will be conducted in unison. The initiative is designed to combat the growing clout of the large media owners, in particular the ITV duopoly of Granada and Carlton, created following the sale of United News & Media’s network franchises including Meridian and HTV.
All three agencies will remain as separate businesses and will retain their independent strategic media planning and buying functions.
Carat sees centralised trading in key areas as presenting all the advantages of a merger between its shops, without the disadvantages.
Ray Kelly, Carat Group UK chairman and chief executive of Carat Northern Europe, said the move would give Carat Group a market share of 13% in most media markets and 16% in the TV market.
“We are concerned about media consolidation and, having discussed the implications with our customers, we have decided to deploy our strength in a way which allows us to continue to deliver exceptional media value to our clients.
“It is clear that size matters to media owners – it must also matter to those who buy from them.”
In addition to TV trading, press negotiations with major magazine and newspaper publishers will also be centralised.