The outdoor business, at least in the UK, is booming reaching about £1bn in turnover and some of the executives responsible for placing this money seem to be backing this particular horse each way – by being directors and shareholders in a company called Outdoor Plus.
Outdoor Plus, which is a small but profitable player in the UK market dominated by JC Decaux, Clear Channel, CBS Outdoor and airports specialist Primesight, has just merged with giant banner poster company Big Sky Banners led by Gary Newton.
The enlarged Outdoor Plus will continue to be led by managing director and biggest shareholder Jonathan Lewis and, interestingly, also on the board are fellow shareholders Havas Media group CEO Mark Craze, his colleague at Havas (and cousin) MPG Media Contacts CEO Marc Mendoza and Walker Media CEO Phil Georgiadis. Walker Media is majority-owned by M&C Saatchi.
In 2009 (the latest figures) Outdoor Plus turned over £14.9m and made a pre-tax profit of £2.2m, a decent margin in the outdoor business.
Most of Outdoor Plus’ business comes from WPP-owned poster specialist agency Kinetic although some comes direct from MPG which uses Aegis-owned rival Posterscope for most of its poster deals.
Some 70-odd Outdoor Plus sites in and around London figure among Kinetic’s so-called ‘Acquired Inventory’ which means holdings that it block buys and then sells on to clients, which is very like media broking which is frowned on in UK media circles and in some aspects of it against the rules (although media owners are usually prepared to turn a blind eye for a decent price).
The well-connected Outdoor Plus and Big Sky Banners will surely go from strength to strength.