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
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
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.