x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Marketer to cut jobs

Concept Group in Dubai says it will cut jobs and reshuffle management as business falls 50 per cent.

Concept Group, a Dubai media and marketing company, announced new leadership yesterday as part of plans to lay off staff and consolidate business after a drop of nearly 50 per cent in its core business of outdoor advertising in the past year. As part of the changes, Sachin Singhal, formerly the director of sales for radio and publication at the Arab Media Group (AMG), was appointed the chief executive at Concept, while Aldrin Fernandes, the managing director and chief executive since 2003, will become chairman in charge of restructuring the business. "Our outdoor division has taken a beating," Mr Fernandes said. "So as a company, we need to restructure. Now we have to sell across the group, rather than just outdoor. "We have to bundle outdoor with other offerings. The days of selling outdoor independently as a standalone business are over." Part of the restructuring would involve reviewing the company's workforce of 320 employees and deciding where to make cuts in the next two months, he said. Some of the redundancies may come from consolidating the eight business units, which included outdoor, print media, printing, event planning and public relations, Mr Fernandes said, although the company was also planning to expand into radio consultancy services this month. Outdoor advertising has been among the media hardest hit by the economic downturn. "It's almost been a 50 per cent drop in sales from last year," Mr Fernandes said. The decline in sales came just as 23 new billboards were erected in Dubai as part of a joint venture between Shoof Outdoor, the outdoor advertising arm of the Arab Media Group, and Stroer Concept, the partnership between the Concept Group and the Stroer Group, one of Europe's largest outdoor advertising companies. So far, the billboards remain empty, although Mr Fernandes said they would be sold as "circuits", or in groups, as soon as the installations were complete. AMG and Stroer Concept began working together in the spring of last year, when they formed a joint venture to bid for the out-of-home media contract for the Dubai Metro. The companies formally announced plans to merge last September. But in December, the Roads and Transport Authority awarded a 10-year, Dh3 billion (US$817 million) advertising contract for the Dubai Metro to Kassab Media and Wellmark Communications. Both Mr Fernandes and Vikas Jain, the chief operating officer of AMG who is also in charge of Shoof, have declined to comment on the status of the merger. khagey@thenational.ae