New PHD lands Lastminute brief, the online late-deal retailer, has appointed New PHD to its media planning and buying account following Walker Media’s resignation from the business last year.

It is understood Lastminute is spending up to £2m a month on advertising, amounting to £24m a year. However, its spend is likely to decrease following the company’s expected flotation this spring.

New PHD will officially pick up the account on March 8, when Walker’s original contract expires, after being appointed without a pitch.

Lastminute’s marketing manager Carl Lyons, who refused to comment on the reasons for Walker’s departure or Lastminute’s advertising budget on advertising, is already diverting media owner calls to New PHD’s offices.

Lyons says: “New PHD’s international network complements our expansion plans, and its strategic planning skills will be of immense benefit.”

The appointment, which covers the UK, France and Germany, comes amid mounting speculation that Lastminute will float within the next two months. It has hired Morgan Stanley Dean Witter’s Mary Meeker to advise on the float. She has overseen the flotation of several Internet successes including Amazon and Yahoo!. Meeker’s appointment saw some estimates of Lastminute’s post-flotation value soar to £600m.

The company is also seeking an international marketing director to lead pushes in the US, France and Germany, and a head of conversion who will be charged with increasing sales tenfold to £60m by next year.

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