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PHWT planning big steppes from new office in Moscow; MEDIA & MARKETING.

Byline: By Anna Blackaby Media and marketing editor

Midlands-based marketing communications agency Palmer Hargreaves Wallis Tomlinson (PHWT) is expanding its activities in Russia with the opening of an office in Moscow.

PHWT is opening a permanent office in Moscow in the first week of October serving big names in the Russian automotive sector such as Ford Russia, Jaguar Landrover and Mazda.

The Leamington-Spa based agency, which also has offices in Cheltenham, is branching into the country at a time when many in the UK business community are worried about the impact of the recent hostilities in Georgia on trade relations.

PHWT chief executive officer Andrew Clift said: "We're still very strong business partners with Russia and business goes on.

"We took the decision to go to Russia at least nine months ago and we are continuing with our plan to continue to access the Russian market and other Eastern European markets from there."

Mr Clift said the decision to consolidate its presence in Russia was down to the buoyancy of the local automotive market.

"In the last five years, the focus in Europe has changed. Now developing markets are more important and markets like Russia and Turkey are really up there," he said.

"Sales of cars in Russia this year are 45 per cent higher than last year. It's a completely different economy and growing very rapidly."

Mr Clift said the PHWT's Russian clients are very interested in what marketing firms are doing in countries like the UK and are keen to hire communication specialists with skills and experience gained in the West.

"We have a more established marketing profession over here and they appreciate the experience we have built up," he said. "The principles and skills are the same but you do have to address the cultural differences.

"For example, Russians are very brandconcious.

If you go to Moscow you see a huge amount of prominence given to brands.

"The Russian middle classes and above spend a lot of money on brands - they want the real thing."

"It's as if all the pent-up demand from the Soviet era is coming out."

HWT hopes to use its Russian base, which will be staffed by three Russian nationals and a French national, as a stepping stone to expand beyond the country into Eastern Europe in the long term.

The firm also intends to offer services to companies outside the automotive sector.

PHWT said it was looking at increasing its representation in China and the Middle East in the next year.

To support these expansion plans, the firm is currently undertaking a recruitment drive and has also just restructured its creative services to allow for creative, digital and design to work together on clients' work in a more cohesive way.

Holly Pallister has been promoted and is now Head of Creative.

She said: "It's great to play an integral role in these plans. It shows that PHWT is forward thinking and is not afraid to challenge traditional agency conventions and they have also given me a clear career path to follow."

PHWT, which was set up in 1985, specialises in multi-market, multi-language communications.

It works in 66 countries and now employs more than 100 people across its offices in Leamington Spa, Cheltenham, Cologne, Paris as well as Moscow.

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PHWT founder and CEO Andrew Clift (right) and UK managing director Randy Weeks (left)
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 8, 2008
Words:562
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