Barker & Ralston to merge with management consultants PDP

Barker & Ralston is poised for a ground-breaking merger with a management consultancy, in what is being claimed as the first marriage of its kind involving a UK agency.

Barker & Ralston is poised for a ground-breaking merger with a

management consultancy, in what is being claimed as the first marriage

of its kind involving a UK agency.

It will join with PDP International to integrate strategic advice with

creative expertise, under the name Mountain View. The new company claims

it will have a combined annual fee income of more than pounds 4


Peter Mitchell, soon to retire as strategic affairs director of

Guinness, will be non-executive chairman of the merged operation, whose

managing partners and principal equity holders will be David Barker and

Derek Ralston, the agency’s founders, and Thomas Bayne, PDP’s chief


News of the deal comes as agencies become increasingly concerned about

consultants encroaching on their territory and charging clients large

sums for advice.

The merger is a dramatic initiative by Barker & Ralston, whose future

seemed in doubt earlier this year. The loss of pounds 15 million worth

of Abbey National business in February, together with the agency’s

removal from Saab’s pounds 8 million UK account last year, wiped almost

three quarters off its billings.

Shortly before the Abbey National loss, the agency announced it was

teaming up with McCann-Erickson, but the planned relationship came to


Ralston said this week: ’We are creating a new generation of marketing

services company.’

The merger will precipitate other senior level changes with Matthew

Heath, the account director who previously ran the agency’s Abbey

National and Saab accounts, becoming managing director of Mountain


Richard Carman, a writer, and his art director, Julian Scott, who

together produced the agency’s work for Beck’s Bier and Kia cars, become

joint creative directors.

Their promotion will enable Barker to relinquish overall creative

command to concentrate on consultancy, while maintaining relationships

with key Barker & Ralston clients, including E&J Gallo Californian


The merger, after almost a year of talks, reunites Barker with Heather

Auton, one of PDP’s senior consultants with whom he worked when she was

a client at Clairol, and Ralston with Bayne, his contemporary at the

former Davidson Pearce agency.

The 43-strong combined agency will open its doors officially on 1

September from new central London offices.

’This is a new but long overdue concept,’ Barker said. ’It enables us to

offer insights into clients’ problems and also implement the solutions.’


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