Hakuhodo prepares to buy London shops

Hakuhodo, the Japanese agency, is planning to acquire London agencies to fuel its expansion in the UK.

Hakuhodo, the Japanese agency, is planning to acquire London

agencies to fuel its expansion in the UK.



In a change to its previous growth strategy, Hakuhodo is understood to

have hired WKS Results, the Willott Kingston Smith subsidiary, to make

first-level contacts with appropriate agencies and, in recent weeks,

Japanese officials have been visiting possible candidates in London.



No clear pattern has emerged of what form a possible acquisition would

take. ’We don’t know if it will come in quietly or with a big buy,’ one

observer admitted.



However, any acquisition would mark a significant change in Hakuhodo’s

approach to the UK market. Japan’s second largest agency - the first to

open offices here - has been in London since the late 80s but has put an

emphasis on trying to grow organically, rather than through

acquisition.



However, it has suffered credibility problems because of the lack of a

strong local brand.



Hakuhodo has blown hot and cold about the UK market. Initially

concentrating on growing local business, it ditched this policy in 1992

to focus on its Japanese clients .



The search for London shops is being run from Hakuhodo’s head office in

Tokyo. Trevor Morphew, client services director of its London office,

said he was unaware of any impending takeover moves.



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