Railtrack reviews outdoor options

Railtrack has hired former CIA Medianetwork director Kevin Shute to look at how it can increase outdoor ad revenue, prompting speculation that it could be planning to take its poster business out of Maiden and M&A and sell the sites direct to clients.

Railtrack has hired former CIA Medianetwork director Kevin Shute to

look at how it can increase outdoor ad revenue, prompting speculation

that it could be planning to take its poster business out of Maiden and

M&A and sell the sites direct to clients.



Shute, who left CIA in January, has been hired on a freelance

consultancy basis. His appointment follows that of Yan Huybrechts,

formerly of MediaVest, who was brought in with a full-time brief to

maximise advertising revenue from Railtrack’s huge property

portfolio.



Railtrack owns more than 4,000 poster sites. The most desirable and

lucrative of these sites are the railside properties, which are sold by

Maiden.



It also has a number of roadside sites, some of which are sold by Maiden

and some by JC Decaux subsidiary Mills & Allen.



Huybrechts said that part of his job was to consider whether the sites

would be best sold direct to clients, or whether new contractors should

be brought in to market them. ’This has to be something we look at as we

start to think about renegotiating the contracts,’ he said.



This would be a terrible blow to Maiden. The Railtrack billboards are

thought to comprise more than 10 per cent of the company’s total stock,

and include some top city-centre locations. Maiden has invested heavily

in the quality and marketing of these sites and demand for them has

risen so that they are often booked up ahead of most other UK poster

sites.



But Maiden’s managing director David Pugh seemed relatively unperturbed:

’This business is important to us but we do not think we will lose it,’

he said. ’We have a contract until 2004 and a great working relationship

with Railtrack. We have worked hard to exploit the full potential of its

sites and to come up with new product ideas, and we know this has been

appreciated.’



Huybrechts said the contract would not be up for a ’couple of

years’.



He also said: ’Railtrack does not necessarily want to get involved in

selling poster sites.’ But he added it was possible another contractor

could come in and buy out the contract.



Nigel Mansell, managing director of outdoor specialist Concord, said:

’Railtrack would not have Yan and Kevin there for no reason. Its

railside sites used to be the Cinderella of the business, but Maiden has

really turned them around and they are now selling about two months

ahead of roadsides. Railtrack is bound to look at them and wonder

whether it could take a bigger chunk.’



In the meantime, Shute will be looking at other potential revenue

raisers.



He will be selling some supersite posters inside stations, and will also

be considering other projects such as plasma screens within stations and

sponsorship opportunities on departure boards.



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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).