The furniture retail chain Courts has been talking to agencies about its pounds 16 million media planning and buying account, held by Carat.
Courts is understood to have held several credentials meetings with media agencies over the last month. But Courts' marketing controller, Andrew Hickling, denied a review was imminent. He said meetings following Courts' trip to the Marketing Forum on the Aurora in September could have led to speculation about the future of the account.
'We may have spoken to agencies in the sense that we meet people in the course of business and have conversations with them, but that's a far cry from putting an account up for review,' he said.
Carat picked up the Courts account in 1994 after a pitch against WCRS, Initiative Media and Pattison Horswell Durden. It has retained the business through two creative reviews.
The account has been the subject of speculation several times in the past few years. Doubts about the account's future were fuelled in 1998 after former marketing director Chris Coote said several full-service shops could provide an alternative to Carat.
Courts is the UK's second-largest furniture advertiser. It has raised its spending from the pounds 5 million a year originally inherited by Carat.
Rival DFS spends more than pounds 30 million a year, while the smaller Uno Upholstery spends pounds 6 million.
RPM3, which picked up Courts' creative account from CDP in 1998, is not thought to be affected by the discussions.