Jeremy Lee: Shops should think about their location, location, location
A view from Jeremy Lee

Jeremy Lee: Shops should think about their location, location, location

As everyone knows, Nigel Sharrocks, the chief executive of Aegis Media Global Brands, is an intelligent, modest, gently spoken Lancastrian.

He's certainly not one prone to unnecessary hyperbole and would probably be embarrassed if he were told he has plenty to be proud of (which he has).

But the achievement he is, we are told, "extremely proud" of is overseeing the relocation of all Aegis Media's UK component agency brands into one rather fancy building in central London. It apparently means its clients will get a "cutting-edge" service.

This is, of course, just silly but ultimately harmless PR guff. There's a lot of common sense in rationalising office space to cut out rent and centralise functions, such as HR, in one location and I hope that Posterscope, Carat, Vizeum and Isobar rub along just fine. But I'm sure that none of their respective clients will give two hoots - as long as they are assured that any conflict will be protected - that they're all in one building.

But the relocation does, once again, raise the wider and more general question as to why agencies continue to house some of their back office transactional media functions in expensive buildings in central locations. You could argue that while Aegis has made a start, much like nearly every other network in town, there's still much more that could be done.

While they undoubtedly play a key part in the process, do the more junior media buyers need to travel into central London to do their jobs? Equally, do their counterparts, doing a necessary but ultimately functional sales admin role, need to be housed in expensive locations? I'd argue that technology - as well as responsible financial husbandry to shareholders - would suggest not.

It's difficult not to believe clients must be incredulous at the current situation, where support staff are in the same building as the management, given that the functional aspect of their own businesses - manufacturing - are frequently located in the most cost-efficient place, and rarely at head office. It also makes the argument that clients are squeezing their agencies too hard increasingly difficult to articulate.

It would seem to me to make better financial and logistical sense to outsource the functional (manufacturing) aspects of the businesses to cheaper offices in cheaper locations and employ good admin people to do it. This would leave the essential clientand media owner-facing staff in central locations where they are needed.

Surely it's time that agencies caught up with business process outsourcing - a buzzword that has been used and practised by their clients for years. As well as emulating their clients, isn't there also a responsibility to shareholders? And that would be worth shouting about.