Railtrack, one of the biggest commercial landlords in the country, is considering selling its 4,000-site poster estate directly to clients and media agencies in a move that would be a huge blow to its existing sales agents, Maiden and Mills & Allen (M&A).
Yan Huybrechts, Railtrack commercial advertising manager, has hired Kevin Shute, former CIA business development director and M&A director of sales, as a consultant in this field.
Huybrechts, who previously worked at MediaVest and was hired by Railtrack to maximise advertising revenues from its property portfolio, says: “It’s an option we are keeping open.”
In a further shot across the bows of Maiden and M&A, Huybrechts has signed Railtrack’s first deals with TDI and Scottish Radio Holdings’ outdoor division Score on some small development projects.
The new commercial relationships with TDI and SRH are seen as a means of putting pressure on Maiden and M&A for a renegotiation of rates when existing sales agreements come up for renewal.
It also paves the way for an auction of Railtrack sites, if it decides to dispose of them as a non-core asset to raise hundreds of millions of pounds. This would be almost certainly the last chance for a foreign media owner or non-poster company to enter the UK outdoor market
One observer says: “Huybrechts is trying to demonstrate to Railtrack that it is a major media owner.”
TDI has been appointed to develop poster sites at Moorgate, Old Street and Highbury & Islington stations, while Score is developing sites at Birmingham International Airport.