Homserve looks to America for brand growth

Homeserve looks to America for brand growth

HomeserveHomeserve is looking for a marketing services director (MW last week) as part of an attempt to increase awareness of its brand.

The Walsall-based emergency repairs company, which dubs itself "the AA of home emergencies", is certainly not short of ambition. It has recruited a heavyweight management team and is ramping up its advertising spend this year.

Homeserve recorded an increase in pre-tax profits of nearly 30% to £50m in its last financial year and is now looking across the Atlantic to step up its growth. The company, which was spun out of South Staffordshire Water in 2004, provides home emergency services, such as boiler repairs for insurance companies, as well as selling services through its utility partners, like Thames Water.

The majority of its profits are generated from the deals with utility partners and Homeserve GB marketing director Geoff Love says the key to growing in this country is finding new partners with which to work.

Love will not be drawn on specific targets but argues this year’s £40m spend on direct mail, along with "giving away £17m worth of water supply cover", are indications of the company’s ambitions. He also cites the appointment of John Florsheim, BSkyB’s former chief marketing officer, as chief executive of Homeserve GB as "massive" for the company. That view is endorsed by one analyst, who says: "John Florsheim is very highly thought of, as is the rest of the management."

Rebranding for protection
Homeserve’s latest attempt to boost its brand profile follows the rebranding of its fleet of more than 1,000 vans in red liveries, which was phased in over 12 months.

Homeserve is looking to link up with high-street retailers like Debenhams to provide branded services and also wants to give its brand equal prominence to its partners in direct marketing campaigns. Analysts believe that such moves are a conscious effort to protect its brand.

One says: "Over the past 12 to 18 months, Homeserve has been rolling out more and more red vans. I think we will see more of this as it looks to protect itself in case one of its core utility partners ends the partnership."

Other challenges for the company include replicating its domestic success in the US as the UK market becomes more mature.

However, Homeserve disputes this, saying that people are becoming concerned about cowboy tradesmen. But it is increasingly looking overseas to places such as the US and France for future growth.

Marketing tasks
The company’s new marketing services director will be given a broad remit, developing the marketing services function across all products, clients, channels and media. The successful candidate will also take responsibility for the development of the online channel for the company.

Homeserve awarded its £3m media planning and buying account to 7stars last year but uses advertising agencies on an "ad hoc" basis.

With revenues and profits up across all divisions, with the exception of its warranties business, over its last financial year, Homserve is in a strong position. The challenge now is to take the business to the next level.

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