Fitch foray into UK ads may follow US venture

Fitch is opening a 20-strong US office in Detroit offering advertising and other marketing communications. If successful, the move into wider services may herald an expansion into advertising by Fitch in the UK.

The Detroit deal follows discussions at Fitch about widening the skills it offers, says group financial director Gerry McLeod. But the circumstances in which Fitch has launched in Detroit are “opportunistic”, he adds.

The new office has come about through Omnicom Group company Ross Roy relinquishing all the non-Chrysler business handled by its General Accounts Group. Fitch has taken on 20 staff from that group, including its former executive vice-president Janet Muhleman.

Muhleman will now lead Fitch’s office in Detroit. The 20 staff, described by McLeod as “media people” rather than designers, would otherwise have been made redundant when the General Accounts Group concentrated on its work for Chrysler.

McLeod says Fitch will be recruiting designers or moving existing Fitch designers to join Muhleman’s team, which will initially be based at Ross Roy’s facilities in Detroit suburb Bloomfield Hills before relocating to new offices in the region.

Despite Ross Roy resigning its non-Chrysler accounts, McLeod is confident Fitch can retain most of the business, particularly the four clients it has in common.

Any UK move into advertising would have to be a similar deal where there is no actual purchase of an existing group, says McLeod. “But it is something we are interested in,” he adds.

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