GUS is considering centralising the £42 million Argos Retail Group account into one agency and has instructed media auditors to review the current planning and buying arrangements. However, it is also possible it will split the planning and the buying accounts between two agencies.
Before a formal media review is called, the client has asked the auditors to pitch for the brief to handle the review; Media Audits handles Homebase, while Billetts oversees Argos.
Homebase became part of the Argos Retail Group last November, when GUS acquired it from Sainsbury's in a £900 million deal. There have been persistent rumours ever since Sainsbury's disposed of Homebase that it was coming up for review.
At the time of its purchase, GUS promised that it could achieve £20 million-worth of cost savings in three years.
While both the incumbents have been invited to pitch, it is not clear at this stage of the review if it will be opened up to other agencies.
As well as its media account, Argos is in talks with agencies about reducing the number of shops that handle its point-of-purchase and below-the-line activity. It uses about ten below-the-line agencies.
The creative accounts for Argos (held by Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper) and Homebase (shared by Lowe and Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO) are not up for review.
Argos moved its creative account out of Ogilvy & Mather and into Euro RSCG in May last year. This ended a 13-year relationship with O&M.
Homebase reviewed its advertising last August, before it was bought by GUS. Although it retained AMV as its lead agency, it also appointed Lowe for special projects.
AMV is responsible for creating the ongoing campaign featuring the Men Behaving Badly actors Neil Morrissey and Leslie Ash.