JWT scraps its plan for Cheetham Bell London

J. Walter Thompson is abandoning plans to open a London branch of its Manchester-based Cheetham Bell shop. The decision sees JWT drop attempts to resolve conflicts arising from the anticipated arrival of Bates UK clients.

This means the agency will lose out on combined billings of more than £5 million that it had stood to receive from Heinz's frozen food and Georgia-Pacific's Nouvelle luxury toilet tissue brands. The business was set to be folded into JWT following WPP's acquisition of Bates' parent, Cordiant, last month.

Launching Cheetham Bell in the capital would have been one way round the clashes with JWT's Kimberly Clark, Kraft and Nestle assignments.

Instead, the Nouvelle business is to be redirected into the WPP-owned HHCL/Red Cell. This is in addition to the entire Sky TV account HHCL previously shared with Bates.

It remains unclear where Heinz will go, but one option is the food giant's other roster agency, Leo Burnett.

But the majority of Bates' billings will still be absorbed by JWT, with the agency taking on Bates UK's £8 million Roche pharmaceutical business, which includes the Rennie and Sanatogen briefs.

Pfizer has also been clinched by JWT, with HSBC Republic, the private banking operation, Hoover, Thames Water, Piaggio and Duchy Originals expected to follow suit.

Staff from Bates UK will join JWT to service the accounts, raising hopes that more than half of the 120 jobs at the London office can be saved.

Meanwhile, 15 of Bates' offices in Scandinavia, Belgium, The Netherlands, Australia and Eastern Europe will be subsumed into Red Cell following the takeover of Bates, while Red Cell and Bates operations in Italy and Spain are likely to be merged.

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