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IAS merges with two other shops to form 'super agency'

LONDON - IAS, the Manchester-based business-to-business agency, has merged with two other Media Square-owned shops to create a 'super agency' with £11m annual revenues.

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IAS has merged with Scottish PR agency Citigate Smarts and promotional marketing agency Catalyst. The group also includes digital shop River, which was acquired by IAS last year. It will be known as IAS Smarts and has offices in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Scotland and Ireland, with more than 200 staff.

The structure is based on a centres-of-excellence strategy. Each location will retain what IAS described as its "heritage offering", but also offer clients the expertise of the full network for integrated campaigns.

IAS founder Tim Hazelhurst becomes chairman of IAS Smarts, and Smarts founder Rob Morrice is chief executive.

Along with direct marketing, it will offer PR, brand strategy, promotional marketing, brand experience, interactive and design.

Hazelhurst said: "Each IAS Smarts office is a substantial business in its own right and in its own market -- consumer or B2B. But the idea is to promote the centre-of-excellence strategy: how the combined offer will bring something new for major clients who are increasingly looking for full solutions."

IAS Smarts will have plc status, but remains a part of Media Square, the holding company for agencies including Clark McKay & Walpole, direct agency SBGFinex and design agency Holmes & Marchant. Kelvin MacKenzie, former Sun editor and former chief executive of TalkSport, joined as non-executive chairman in January. Media Square is listed on AIM in London.

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